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Hot Spots

April 19, 1997 | By Keith Schneider
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service

3Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
A resort owner nearly succeeds with a proposal to swap land he owns along a river, which can not be developed because of wetland protection laws, for national park land overlooking Lake Michigan.

4Leelanau County
Efforts to establish a scenic recreational trail on an unused railroad corridor, supported by most county residents, is battled by property rights advocates. In seeking to block the trail, they convince the county government to spend more than $100,000 on legal fees.

5Big Manistee River
A DNR proposal to designate the lower third of the Big Manistee and its main tributaries as a state natural river runs into powerful resistance from the property rights movement. Land owners and township boards are persuaded to oppose designation.

6Norman Township, Manistee County
Arguing that their rights are violated by zoning regulations, members of the Michigan Militia and property rights activists try to take over the township government. The township board requests assistance from the National Guard to subdue the attempt.

7Filer Township, Manistee County
The Engler Administration's willingness to choose investors' property rights over human health and safety places some residents in danger here. The DEQ has allowed natural gas wells that contain high concentrations of poisonous hydrogen sulfide (H2S) in neighborhoods. In August 1996, 11 people are hospitalized, and some are left with chronic lung and nervous system damage, after an accidental H2S release.

8Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area
In 1995, the Engler Administration settles a "takings" lawsuit by paying $94 million of public money to oil interests that the DNR prohibited from drilling here. The settlement blocks a review of the case by the Michigan Supreme Court, and sets a precedent cited by state officials who now are refusing to enforce environmental laws.

The DEQ proposes weakening state oversight and enforcement of wetland protection laws. State Sen. George McManus Jr. introduces legislation that would essentially repeal the 1972 Natural River Act.

10 Waterford Township, Oakland County
In 1996, K&K Construction Co. receives a $5.2 million Appellate Court judgment on a "takings" claim. The case involves a DNR decision to prohibit the filling of wetlands for a new restaurant and parking lot.

11Minden Township, Sanilac County
In 1995, the Michigan Peat Co. sues the state for a $300 million "taking," after the DNR turns down an application to mine a 2,700-acre virgin wetland. The Minden Bog is one of the largest undeveloped wetlands in the state, and the southernmost ecosystem of its kind in North America. The DEQ now is seeking to amend the DNR decision and allow mining, an action the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said would violate federal wetland protection law.

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