A Harvest in the Park
I do not mean to turn the focus of this blog solely to the proposed budget fixes of Minnesota’s GOP reps, but I cannot stop being amazed by the plans that are being proposed. Yesterday it was depleting dedicated funds, today it is harming one of, if not our greatest state asset, our state parks. I understand that Republicans are not interested in raising taxes. But is committing long term harm to state funding or to the state’s natural resources a better substitute?
MEP reports today on criticism the House is receiving over a proposed budget amendment that would open timber harvesting in two State Parks in Southern MN. “The amendment, passed by the Minnesota State House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee, was added to an omnibus finance bill, and allows “black walnut and other timber resources suitable for harvest” to be logged in Frontenac State Park and Whitewater State Park.”
The larger budget bill would also cut DNR funding. “The Minnesota House budget bill recommends cutting general state support for the state parks by 10 percent. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) estimates they would have to close 10-14 state parks if the House’s proposed reductions were to become law.”
I find this fix very difficult to understand. Not just because Minnesotans have time and again, and very clearly in 2008, declared their desire to protect Minnesota’s natural resources, parks, and waters, although that is a major part of why this does not make sense for Minnesota. What is even more difficult to understand, however, is the proposal that we would cut old growth forests that we have long ago decided to protect, because the state budget in 2011 is causing political danger. Think about the logic of this solution. We have real budget problems, but they are not insurmountable. To solve a very temporary budget problem we are thinking of solutions that can not be undone.
Fifty years from now, in 2061, will Minnesotans look back on what is left of Frontenac State Park while birding in the fall and say: Yes, I’m glad they cut our old growth trees and took our parks away, so they could fix their 2011 budget, rather than making hard choices, compromising, and seeing the preservation of our lands.
I do not know that this budget amendment will last. I would hope that it does not. But it has passed its way through committee, and has been included in the budget bill that will make its way to floor. This would be a tragic solution to a very short term problem.