How Much State Land Is Enough?

How much land should the Michigan Department of Natural Resources own or control?

 Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, has introduced legislation that caps the amount of land the DNR can own. Senate Bill 248 stipulates: “The Department shall not acquire surfaces rights to land if the Department owns or controls, or as a result of the acquisition will own or control, the surface rights to more than 4,475,000 acres of land. The Department shall post and maintain on its website the number of acres of land owned by the department, in total, and by program.”

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Often times government officials are slow to recognize changing economic and demographic realities. The just released U.S. Census numbers shows the gut-wrenching changes that the state has experienced over the previous decade. Michigan is the only state in the nation to lose population over the last decade, with Detroit loosing almost one-quarter of its population.  

It is irresponsible for DNR officials to continue to purchase more land when the state’s economy and population are declining. If DNR officials insist on continuing to purchase more land than it has the resources to effectively manage, it is necessary that the Legislature intervene.