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Report: Now More than Ever, MI Needs Conservation Dollars

November 7, 2011

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Michigan is known as the Great Lakes State - but there are fears it won't live up to that title if Congress doesn't preserve funding for environmental and wildlife programs.

With less than three weeks to go for the congressional Super Committee to find more than $1 trillion in deficit reductions, conservation groups are urging the two Michigan lawmakers on that committee - Reps. Dave Camp and Fred Upton - to remember what makes their state so special.

A new report notes that budgets for conservation and wildlife programs have already been cut by more than 30 percent. That's compared to 7 percent for other non-defense discretionary spending.

Brenda Archambo, outreach consultant for the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), which produced the report, says these programs are already stretched as thin as they can go.

"If the deficit committee fails to reach a deal and automatic cuts are triggered, already-weakened conservation programs will be decimated."

In order to make such deep cuts, Congress has said all federal programs have to be on the table. But conservation groups argue that, even in tough economic times, there are ways to protect the environment. And Archambo says cutting clean water and air programs in Michigan, or funding for National Parks, will only exacerbate the state's problems.

"Further cuts to conservation will mean dirtier air, dirtier water, and an overall weakening of our quality of life at a time we can not to lose any more."

The NWF report also says wildlife-related recreation, like hunting, fishing and viewing, supports more than 73,000 jobs in Michigan and generates more than $5 million in consumer spending annually.

The Super Committee has until November 23 to make its recommendations for $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction measures over the next ten years.

The report is online at www.nwf.org



Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI