Ontonagon Village Council takes a pass on Sen. McBroom Resolution
Resolution opposes the designation of additional national wilderness designations in the U.P.
By Bruce Johanson
The Ontonagon Village Council sat in regular session on Oct. 10. Present were President Tony Smydra; Sarah Hopper, President Pro-Tem; Trustees John Hamm, Elmer Marks Jr., Don Chastan, Brittny Penegor, and Mike Rebholz. Also present was Village Manager William DuPont and Clerk Kori Weisinger.
It is expected that $3.1 million is coming to the village from the State of Michigan, specifically to be used for the MERS obligation, but this money has not yet been received. State Representative Greg Markkenen (R) and State Senator Ed McBroom (R), have been contacted by the village manager asking for their assistance in receiving these funds. Contact is also being kept with the Michigan Treasury Department. DuPont added that Rep. Markkenen had forwarded some forms to the village which are being filled out.
• Senate Resolution 150: A resolution that has been prepared and offered by State Senator Ed McBroom (R) opposing the designation of additional national wilderness designation in the Upper Peninsula.
The issue is that the Environmental Law and Policy Center has asked the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) to request that Congress designate four (4) sites in the Ottawa National Forest as wilderness areas in which there would be no permanent improvements or human habitation (homes or houses). The U.S. Forest Service has taken no position on this matter at this time.
Locally, this involves the Ehlco Area of 16,000 acres (just south of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park); the Trap Hills of 25,000 acres (southwest of Rockland between US 45 and M-64); the Norwich Plains of 8,000 acres (northeast of Bergland); and in Baraga County, an addition to the Sturgeon River Gorge of 2,000 acres which comes to a total of 51,000 acres in all.
The Ontonagon Village Council has been asked to consider going on record as supporting Senator McBroom’s resolution opposing the addition of the above tracts to the NWPS. The Ontonagon County Board of Commissioners has also been asked to take a position supporting opposition to the designation of additional wilderness areas, but the matter was tabled until information from both sides of the matter could be heard. The county commissioners will be considering a vote on this at their meeting on Oct. 18. Those seeking more information should attend this meeting at the Ontonagon County Courthouse at 4 p.m. on Oct. 18.
It should be pointed out that the entire matter is a simple resolution and not binding. The final decision will be made by the US Congress at some point in time. The resolution being considered would only be a matter of expressing local sentiment.
Hopper felt that this matter is something that the village should not become involved as this is not within the purview of the village.
Hamm felt that council should support the resolution for the benefit of those who use ATV’s or wish to use these areas for recreational purposes. He also feels that the Federal Government has enough wilderness land.
Chastan stated his support for Hopper’s position, that the village should not become involved in this matter as it has no direct impact on the village.
Given the availability of more detailed information at the forthcoming county commissioner’s meeting, the village council took no action.