A pair of U.P. state legislators today took issue with a downstate effort to dictate the future of land in the U.P.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 11 urges Congress to designate areas of the U.P. as federally protected Wilderness areas. The proposed area includes the Ehlco Area, Trap Hills, Norwich Plains, and a 2,000-acre addition to the Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness; a total of 51,000 new restricted-use acres.
With this designation come many unacceptable restrictions. Of particular concern to Reps. Markkanen and Prestin are the prohibitions on tree cutting and the use of vehicles – from cars to bicycles.
“Once again, we find ourselves defending our U.P. way of life from people who don’t live here,” said Prestin, of Cedar River. “This is part of an ongoing effort to use the power of the state and federal government to dictate how we live our lives – from healthcare access to energy usage and our livelihoods. We see this all too often. These prohibitions restrict responsible forest management practices and stops older people and people with disabilities from adequately enjoying the outdoors. This effort totally discards the responsible, resource-based economies that allow us to survive up here. The Upper Peninsula is our home, not a playground.”
Notable restrictions include:
- Cutting live trees
- Moving dead trees
- Removing anything from a cave
- Constructing or maintaining a road or trail
- Handing out fliers
- Using a loud-speaker
- Having a dog on a leash longer than six feet
- Possessing or using a motor vehicle or bike
- Using a helicopter to pick up or drop off any person or supplies
Furthermore, firearms could be prohibited at any time by executive order.
In response, Reps. Markkanen and Prestin introduced a pair of resolutions today, House Resolution 153 and House Concurrent Resolution 7, urging Congress not to issue the Wilderness area declaration and instead ask Congress to declare the entire city of Ann Arbor a federally protected wilderness area.
“Why a Senator from Ann Arbor thinks she and the Biden Administration know how to manage our backyard better than we do is patently ridiculous,” said Markkanen, of Hancock. “If downstate Democrats want new wilderness areas in Michigan, I’m more than willing to help out by asking Congress to declare the entire city of Ann Arbor a federally protected wilderness area.”
The state of Michigan has a total of 16 federal Wilderness areas that cover nearly 300,000 acres. Wilderness areas are managed by four federal agencies – the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the Bureau of Land Management.
“Democrats clamoring about process means nothing when they won’t engage with us legislatively,” said Markkanen, who serves on the House Education Committee. “I know there are former educators across the aisle. I’m sure they dealt with the same classroom distractions that I did. It appears they forgot about the remedies for those problems. If they truly recognize the need for school safety resources, I’d give them some of the same advice I gave some of my more distracted students – it’s time to turn off the phone, sit down at your desk, and get to work. We need a committee hearing so we can get these bills done.”
“There are so many Yoopers with Finnish heritage, making celebrating Finnish history all the more important in the Upper Peninsula,” said Markkanen, R-Hancock. “Saunas are essential to Finnish culture. Finns of all generations enjoy traditional saunas for cleansing and as a vital source of relaxation and socializing.”
“Pvt. Karna served his country bravely in its time of greatest need,” Markkanen said. “As a fellow veteran, I’m honored to introduce a bill to memorialize his service and sacrifice in the Painsedale and South Range communities.”
“The governor’s new Good Jobs 2.0 proposal has a lot in common with Hollywood’s recent obsession with remaking classic movies; the only difference being, unlike many of the movies, the original Good Jobs program was terrible too,” said Markkanen, R-Hancock. “Michigan doesn’t need to lure coastal corporations into our state so we can have more big fancy ribbon cutting events. We need a real economic development strategy to support our struggling small businesses across Michigan.”