Saturday, September 08, 2012

Michigan LCV: Casperson bill wants ATVs on conservancy lands

From Michigan League of Conservation Voters Political Week in Review
Posted Aug. 27, 2012 (Reprinted with permission)
By Ryan Werder

Imagine walking down a path that winds through your local nature preserve. Birds are chirping, squirrels are chattering. Walking quietly, you spot a deer just off the trail upwind from you. The sounds of the forest put you at ease, but you suddenly hear a roaring motor rapidly accelerating toward you. The deer spooks, the birds fly away, and you’re splashed with mud thrown up by an ATV as it zips past on the once-peaceful trail.

This could be the new reality for nature conservancies if Sen. Tom Casperson has his way. According to excellent reporting by Bridge Michigan’s Jeff Alexander, Sen. Casperson is working on a bill that would require nature conservancies to allow motorized access in order to qualify for tax exemptions.* Nature conservancies, however, often have covenants prohibiting motorized access that the bill would require them to break in order to continue their tax status.

In the article, Sen. Casperson said that the bill was about public access, but conservancies already allow public access. All you have to do is walk in. This bill, unfortunately, continues language included in other recent bills -- like SB 1238 and the Land Cap Bill -- which attempt to restrict quiet-use areas.** There is nothing wrong with having some areas of public land open to motorized trails, but there is nothing wrong with conserving some areas for quiet uses like hiking and cross-country skiing, either. After all, since when does enjoying nature require a whirring engine?

* Click here to read Jeff Alexander's Aug. 23, 2012, Bridge Michigan article, "Land Wars: Senator targets private land conservancies."

** Click here to read Michigan LCV's Jan. 13, 2012, article on Casperson and the Land Cap Bill.

Read more articles on the Michigan League of Conservation Voters Aug. 27, 2012, Political Week in Review.

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