CRISIS: MI DNR
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 24 October 2007 20:38
DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES FUNDING CRISIS

General Fund reductions and depletion of several of our major restricted funds (Game and Fish Protection Fund, Forest Development Fund and Park Improvement Fund) will require additional and more severe budgetary measures than have been implemented to date.

Since Fiscal Year 2005, DNR has reduced its programs by more than $20 million.  These reductions were much more extensive than the list below, but to give you a few highlights, the cutbacks included:


  • significant reduction of conservation officers with more than 50 vacant conservation officer positions, resulting in reduced effort in public safety and protecting natural resources, delays in responding to complaints, and little or no officer presence in certain areas of the state
  • a 60 percent decrease in production and planting of hatchery Coho for Lake Michigan, resulting in a negative impact on sportfishing and the charter boat industry
  • fewer wildlife population surveys and reduced bovine TB and CWD monitoring, compromising the Department’s ability to manage wildlife populations and monitor for diseases, which increases the risk for a disease to become established and endanger wildlife populations
  • fewer fire officers and reduction in fire equipment replacement, jeopardizing wildfire protection
  • a decrease in timber marking as a result of not filling vacant positions and decreased disease monitoring compromising the health of our forests
  • decreased staffing and maintenance of facilities in our state parks and recreation areas and eliminating all non-emergency trail repairs

Without the prospect of license fee adjustments to offset structural deficits in the Game and Fish Protection Fund projected at $2.5 million in Fiscal Year 2008 and $13 million in fiscal year 2009, or finding resolution to address additional deficits in the Forest Development and Park Improvement Funds, drastic reductions to programs and staff will occur.  Listed below are the additional program cuts, by fund, that will be implemented beginning November 1, 2007.


General Fund

Reduction of $1.05 million
Reduction of 12 staff

The Department will implement the following reductions:

  • Closure of state forest campgrounds, pathways, cross country ski trails. This reduction will increase the number of closed state forest campgrounds from 20 to 22 and elimination of all pathways.  These closures will result in a significant decrease in recreational opportunities which will impact local economies that depend on the tourism generated through these activities. 
  • Reduce disease surveillance for bovine tuberculosis.  This reduction would result in the loss of the TB accreditation level currently awarded the state.  This will have a significant impact on the cattle industry.  Monitoring for chronic wasting disease, avian influenza, West Nile, etc. will be greatly reduced increasing the health risks for wildlife and humans.
  • Elimination of general conservation law enforcement by conservation officers. Conservation officers will not be allowed to address general conservation law violations which will degrade public lands such as game areas, state forests, state parks, etc.


Game and Fish Protection Fund
Reduction of $6.2 million
Reduction of 58 staff
 
  • Close 2 fish hatcheries Loss of 1.2 M coho, 1.9 M Chinook salmon, 845,000 brown trout, and 485,000 rainbow trout.  The     economic impact of these reductions will be monumental as fishing boosts the state’s economy     by $2 billion annually.
  • Eliminate remaining fish surveys (creel clerks) Angler harvest data will not be collected and is therefore not available to use to assist in the management of the state’s fisheries resources. This will also eliminate the ability to evaluate ports across the state for compliance with the 2000 Tribal Consent Decree.
  • Close research station Eliminate the ability to evaluate and make management recommendations on inland coldwater fisheries including trout rivers streams and lakes negatively affecting fishing opportunities.
  • Eliminate university research and reduce fish health activities Opportunities will be lost to respond to current disease issues.
  • Eliminate use of Great Lakes research vessels Twenty five years of continuous data collection on harvest mortality and fish health would end compromising our ability to adjust harvest regulations and hatchery stocking programs.
  • Reduce conservation officers This will result in increased illegal activity such as poaching, increased accidents and injuries due to violations of hunter safety regulations and reckless operations of ORV, boats, snowmobiles, etc.  Remaining conservation officers will be at greater risk due to the lack of backup, increased response time, etc.
  • Reduction in emergency dispatch for conservation law violations Emergency dispatch will not be available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Closure of managed waterfowl areas Loss of over 28,300 acres of hunting areas.  This equates to 300 days of lost hunting opportunity. Hunting alone annually brings in $1.3 billion to Michigan’s economy.
  • Translocation of nuisance animals Nuisance bear and geese will no longer be moved. Over 6,000 geese have been removed in Southeast Michigan resulting in greater wildlife-human conflict and disease concerns.
  • Office closures and elimination of presence in field offices

Forest Development Fund

Reduction of $1 million
Reduction of 9 staff

Additional reductions are necessary if $1 million is transferred to the Michigan Department of Agriculture for conservation districts.  As these reductions are implemented and affect future revenue, the need for further reductions will compound.  Fiscal Year 2008 reductions will be as follows:

•    Reduction in timber marking, regeneration, planning
This will negatively impact the amount of timber that is marked, regenerations efforts, oil and gas reviews, use permits and leases, recreation, planning, forest certification and fire response, which will negatively affect tourism and a $13 billion timber industry in the state.

•    Elimination of natural features inventory reviews
Loss of forest certification will likely negatively impact the state’s ability to sell timber reducing state revenues.


Park Improvement Fund

Reduction of 253 staff

Infrastructure conditions continue to deteriorate. To address the structural deficit in the Park Improvement Fund, the Department will cease taking reservations in April 2008 for at least 37 state parks, which will close during Fiscal Year 2009.  Reductions will be implemented in Fiscal Year 2009 as follows:

•    Closure of at least 37 state parks and recreation areas and scenic sites
This reduction will affect millions of visitors annually, eliminating many opportunities for our customers to experience the outdoors through either day use or overnight stays.  These closures will also negatively affect local communities who depend on the economic stimulus provided by the state parks.  Visitors to our state parks contribute more than $580 million annually to Michigan.

•    Closure of 8 interpretative centers
Closure of the interpretative centers will result in the loss of a critical educational opportunity to inform the public about conservation practices, stewardship, and natural resources management.
 
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