ONTONAGON — State Sen.Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) urged Ontonagon Village Council members and a group of residents attending the council's session Monday, to focus on how state policies are relevant to the community.
“Look at state policy and how they affect your own land. We should all be able to use our land for recreation,” Casperson said.
He cautioned that when the state works with federal agencies, often "the restrictive use of land creeps into the policy.” He cited the attempt to enact a bio-diversity stewardship area on 680,000 acres in one U.P. area. The directive was never signed, but if it had, the federal government would have awarded money for management of those acres. If the state accepted the money and then decided not to follow the directives, it would owe the federal government millions of dollars.
“Those things did not happen because people like JR Richardson and John Madigan kept an eye on it,” he said. “My caution is to keep an eye on things, because many regulations happen suddenly and once they do, you cannot do anything about it.”
He also cautioned the public to look carefully on the logic of some regulations. He said the Michigan Department of Transportation has spent a great deal of money to black top roads and put in wider shoulders for the safety of bikes. He added that while bikes pay no fees for roads, ATV’s must have permits and stickers. “But when we want trails and services for motorized vehicles, it’s like pulling teeth,” he said. He claimed it is the "ideology of the group that does not like vehicles that burn fuel."
He claimed some actions smack of hypocrisy. For example, he noted, in an area of lower Michigan, horse riders cross a stream to get from one trail to another. State officials are trying to stop the crossing because the horse hooves dig up silt. He said recently he went kayaking and noticed when the streams are low the kayaks hit the bottom and dig up some vegetation, yet it was the horses that they want to stop. He urged people to “pay attention,” that often it is not the law that was passed and causes the problem, but the rules promulgated.
Ontonagon Manager Joe Erickson and village president William Johnson pointed to the state policy on speed limits. The issue of speed limits on M-38 and U.S. 45 in the village is a problem brought to the state by the council. The village wanted the speed limited lowered in those areas but the state, after doing a study, rejected it. When the council continued to object, it was informed that if another study was made, the speed limit might be increased instead of decreased. “We are requesting it because we want to keep the public and school children safe,” Erickson said.
Mary Sears spoke on the history of sustainable development, citing its history and claiming it addresses regulation of “every facet of human life and how it should be implemented through every level of government.” She warned people of this movement.