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Winter 2008/ Spring 20099
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Policy Update

In her State of the State address on February 3, Governor Granholm announced her plans to move from 18 state departments to eight in an effort to dramatically reduce the size of government due to financial challenges. While the exact details of how the departments will be merged or reduced are not finalized, preliminary plans for recombining the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) are being discussed. The Governor also announced plans to return the permitting process for wetland to the federal governmentappropriations bill for 2008 projects was signed into law by Governor Granholm on May 7, bringing a $48.5 million infusion into Michigan’s economy . Learn more

 

Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund

Advocating for Early Passage of Appropriations Bill
High oil and gas prices in 2008 led to record earnings for the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) - $48.5 million in grants was recommended by the Trust Fund Board at their December 2008 meeting. Heart of the Lakes is encouraging Michigan policy makers to take swift action to pass an appropriations bill to move these funds into Michigan communities. In recent years, MNRTF appropriations have been tied to the general appropriations process, often taking months to be finalized. Early passage of a MNRTF appropriations bill would help stimulate the economy in local communities and the real estate market as well as provide earlier implementation of natural resource recreation opportunities 

Scoring Criteria Changes
The MNRTF Board voted to modify its scoring criteria at its February 4 meeting in an effort to provide greater opportunity for urban and economically disadvantaged communities. Heart of the Lakes will continue to work with DNR grants staff and the Trust Fund Board to provide input to ensure natural resource values remain central to future criteria for the Fund. Agriculture

Protection of Trust Fund for Land Purchases Threatened
State Representative Joel Sheltrown (D-West Branch) introduced House Joint Resolution (HJR) on February 5 to create a ballot proposal for a  constitutional amendment to the MNRTF. The proposed change would increase the annual amount of revenue available but would dedicate half of the annual expenditures for DNR development and management of habitat for game of sport fisheries with the remaining 50% split between land acquisition and development projects. Heart of the Lakes is opposed to this proposed change

 

Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program: Interim Ruse Issued

Passage of the Farm Bill last summer included significant improvements to the Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program (FRPP) including increased funding and administrative efficiencies. The United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation SErvices, the office responsible for administering FRPP, issued interim rules in January, which guide the administration of the program. Public comment is requested by March 17. Heart of the Lakes is working with our members to provide collective input on the implementation of the administrative rules. Visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/farmbill/2008/index.html to view FRPP and interim rules for other Farm Bill conservation program

 

Federal Conservation Tax Incentives

Heart of the lakes will be working with he Land Trust Alliance for the introduction and passage of federal legislation to prevent the December 31, 2009 expiration of expanded federal tax incentives for donations of qualified conservation easements. First passed in 2006 and then extended until the end of this year, these relatively new tax incentives have been responsible for the permanent conservation of thousands of acres of natural and working lands across the country. New legislation is needed to make the incentives permanent. Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) and congressman Mike Thomason (D-CA) will likely introduce the bills. For more information, visit www.landtrustalliance.org/policy/taxincentives/federal

 
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Heart of the Lakes Center for Land Conservation Policy

300 N. Bridge Street, Grand Ledge, MI 48837  |  517.925.8649  |  www.heartofthelakes.org




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