This week, State Representative Martin Howrylak introduced House Bill 5000 to help ensure members of the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) are well versed in fish and wildlife issues.
The NRC is a seven-member public body whose members are appointed by the governor and subject to the advice and consent of the Senate. The NRC has exclusive authority to regulate the taking of game and sportfish, and is authorized to designate game species and the establishment of the first open season for animals. In addition, the NRC serves as the oversight body for the Department of Natural Resources and manages state land resources.
Under current law, there are no professional or baseline requirements for NRC members who make critical decisions that impact all aspects of natural resource management. Rep. Howrylak introduced H.B. 5000 to address this concern. If enacted, Rep. Howrylak’s proposal will require NRC members to possess general knowledge of the distribution of fish and wildlife and at least two members must have a four-year degree from an accredited college or university in the subject areas of Biology, Fisheries, Wildlife or Natural Resource Management.
“Proper management of our state’s natural resources depends on a diverse and scientific knowledge of the fish and wildlife population in Michigan,” Rep. Howrylak said. “If enacted, this legislation will help to ensure that the people overseeing our natural resources have the background knowledge required to perform this important responsibility.”
Additionally, H.B. 5000 prohibits sitting NRC members from holding another office within the state and limits members to three four-year terms.
Other states such as New Hampshire and Washington have similar requirements for commission members.
H.B. 5000 was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources for further consideration.