NRC SETS COURSE FOR YEAR|
LANSING--The Michigan Natural Resources Commission at its
regular monthly meeting in Lansing today discussed and
approved a series of goals for 2002.
"We must recognize the economic, political, and personnel
factors facing the Department of Natural Resources, and
develop concrete plans to help ensure the success of the
agency," said NRC Chairman Keith Charters. "This body boasts
a wide range of business, resource and political talents
from points throughout Michigan. I believe we are in an
excellent position to guide the DNR in the year ahead."
The NRC's goals include:
* Developing a comprehensive, long-range strategy for state
and federal public land management.
* Developing contemporary wildlife management strategies,
including an updated bovine TB strategy, and creating a
wildlife subcommittee on Wildlife, Fish, and Forestry, and
their emerging disease issues.
* Exploring opportunities to streamline processes and
programs, and more effectively managing financial issues,
including impacts of the impending early retirement, through
the NRC Policy Committee on Finance and Administration.
* Becoming more proactively involved in emerging issues to
promote and defend policies and programs, educate the
public, and influence public opinion on resource issues.
* Developing a comprehensive public relations strategy to
enhance the DNR's image and counter public attacks on
programs, policies and actions.
In other news, DNR staff Thursday presented to the
Commission an update on the DNR's Payment in Lieu of Taxes
(PILT) program, which provides funding to pay local
governments to cover property taxes on state lands. Current
appropriations leave the DNR nearly $700,00 short of its
The Commission approved a motion to ask the Legislature to
provide a mechanism for the DNR to fulfill its legal
obligation under the PILT Act by providing an increased
appropriation, or by passing legislation to change PILT to a
grant program. A meeting of the NRC Finance Committee is
scheduled for March 22, at 9 a.m. in Lansing.
"We recognize that this is a serious problem," said
Charters, "and we will work with the Legislature and the
Governor's office to ensure the DNR is able to fulfill its
legal obligation to pay property taxes."
DNR Wildlife Division staff presented preliminary figures on
the statewide deer harvest, including preliminary harvest
figures for DMU 452, the core of most of the state's
confirmed Bovine TB cases. DNR biologists cautioned that the
statewide harvest figures are not yet finalized, as they
continue working to gather data from hunters. However, they
said results of 2001 TB surveillance did not indicate the
disease had spread to any new counties, and noted that
prevalence of TB has not increased.
The next regular meeting of the Natural Resources Commission
is April 11-12 in Grandville.