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Conservationists, Sportsmen and Women Support Clean Power Plan

PHOTO: Michigan bird watchers say they are already seeing alterations in the populations and habitats of the state's birds, which they believe are tied to climate change. Photo credit: S. Baker, Straits Area Audubon Society
PHOTO: Michigan bird watchers say they are already seeing alterations in the populations and habitats of the state's birds, which they believe are tied to climate change. Photo credit: S. Baker, Straits Area Audubon Society
October 9, 2014

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan's hunters, anglers, bird watchers and boaters say they are seeing firsthand how climate change is putting the state's outdoor legacy at risk, which is why many sportsmen and women are now raising their voices for climate action.

A National Audubon Society study projects that more than half of North American birds are at risk of dramatic habitat reduction before the end of the century due to climate change.

Glen Matthews, conservation chairman, Straits Area Audubon Society, says that should raise a red flag for all Michiganders.

"Birds are probably more well-equipped than many types of wildlife to deal with change because they're mobile,” he points out. “But if the plant communities on which they depend can't adapt, then they're going to be left in trouble."

The Audubon Society is one of 35 Michigan conservation groups that have joined with 325 organizations nationwide in supporting the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce carbon emissions from power plants 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Some critics have called the plan too drastic, but Grenetta Thomassey, program director for the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, says its flexibility will allow for Michigan-specific solutions to protect the Great Lakes ecosystem.

She points to the damage already being done by a shifting thaw.

"The meltwater moves into streams and rivers on land, and that changes and affects their flow,” she explains. “So such a large change in stream flow caused by earlier snow melt can have many negative effects on native species."

Along with being part of the state's legacy, Michigan's outdoor industry generates nearly $19 billion per year in consumer spending and supports almost 200,000 jobs.

A letter of support from sportsmen and women can be viewed on the National Wildlife Federation website.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI