House approves Rep. Howell’s plan for managing public land

Categories: Howell News

State Rep. Gary Howell speaks in support of his legislation Wednesday in the chamber of the Michigan House of Representatives.

State Rep. Gary Howell’s legislation laying out a clear strategy for how public land will be purchased, sold and utilized by the state in the future was approved this week by the Michigan House.

Howell, of North Branch, said the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) owns 4.6 million acres of public land but has never adopted a plan for how it should be managed.

“Protecting Michigan’s public lands and lakes is critical to the prosperity and well-being of our state,” said Howell who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee. “We must make sure that our natural resources are utilized appropriately. This bill protects and encourages our hunting and fishing heritage as well as all outdoor recreation and resource use.”

In 2012, the Legislature capped the amount of land the state could own until the DNR developed a detailed public land strategy approved by the Legislature.

Howell’s proposal, laid out in House Bill 4475, removes the cap and lays out in statute the strategy a DNR advisory committee proposed in 2013. It also calls for the strategic plan to be updated by July 1, 2021, and every six years thereafter.

Howell said his legislation also ensures residents and local municipalities have a role in the process.

“It’s crucial to notify the public when the state is considering a major land transaction,” Howell said. “The bill requires the DNR to notify residents and local leaders when outdoor recreational land changes are being proposed.”

The legislation now moves to the Senate for consideration.