State Forest Plan Passed by Split Michigan Senate

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- The Republican-led Michigan Senate has approved a bill to prohibit state regulators from classifying sections of state forest land to have biological diversity.

Legislation headed to the House also orders the state to balance its forest management activities with economic values.

The Escanaba Republican sponsoring the bill says he wants to prevent large areas from being turned into the equivalent of wilderness where logging and motorized recreation are off-limits. Environmentalists worry officials won't be able to base decisions on science.

Sen. Tom Casperson says the bill was inspired largely by concern about a program to create "biodiversity stewardship areas" where conservation of species and ecosystems would be sought. Those places would offer an opportunity for a return of old-growth forests.
The bill was approved Tuesday 26-11, with Democrats in opposition.