Michigan Will Again Have a Joint Dept. of Natural Resources

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Just over two weeks after MUCC joined the Conservation Coalition to meet with Lt. Governor John Cherry and provide recommendations for re-combining Michigan's Departments of Natural Resources and Environmental Quality, Governor Jennifer Granholm has issued an executive order to create the new department, which will be called the "Department of Natural Resources and Environment" (DNRE).

Key Coalition recommendations to retain the Natural Resources Commission and its oversight on game and fish management will be retained under the Order, however, the DNRE's new director will be a political appointment by the governor rather than a selection by the NRC, Michigan's citizen governing body charged with sound scientific management of Michigan's natural resources and game laws. MUCC Executive Director Erin McDonough applauded the initiative but held firm on MUCC's commitment to use the process as an opportunity to remove politics from resource management.

"While the state's unfortunate economic woes have required our elected officials to take a hard look at saving state resources through restructuring, MUCC views this process as a key opportunity to rebuild a foundation for the conservation, wise use and management of Michigan's tremendous natural resources," said McDonough. "As Michigan has witnessed these past few weeks, politics can be an ugly barrier to effective solutions - MUCC is disappointed in the move to make the DNRE's director a political appointment and believes that sound, scientific management should continue to guide resource management in Michigan."

The Order is accompanied by an Executive Directive appointing Bill Rascher to lead the administrative marriage of the two departments, which must be completed by January, 2010. The governor's Directive indicates that one of Rascher's guidelines in the merger will be to work with key stakeholders like MUCC. "Putting the DNR and DEQ together under one roof will not by itself lead to effective solutions. This is a key opportunity to create a new, service-based Department and MUCC is committed to working with Mr. Rascher to make this happen."