The following is an excerpt from the Pere Marquette Chapter news that appeared in the March 2004 edition of Michigan Turkey Tracks. “Our chapter is a member of the Pine River Coalition (Wexford, Osceola & Lake counties) that was formed after 3 years of planning designation of the river as a Natural River was stone walled (we were a member of the planning team). This past year the proposal went to public hearings around the state where it received overwhelming public support. This past September 12 (2003) DNR Director Cool designated the Pine and upper Manistee as Natural Rivers.
During the process opposition from those who would profit from exploiting the resource arose. They gained the support of some local units of government, who apparently believe in fairy tales. State Representatives Ken Bradstreet of Gaylord and Howard Walker of Traverse City introduced house bills that would gut Natural Rivers designation, past, present and future.
On September 24 (2003) the House Conservation Committee, chaired by Susan Tabor held a hearing on the two bills. Within 10 minutes the outcome was clear. Those in opposition to Natural Rivers were called first, given ample time and asked friendly questions. Ms. Tabor then announced that the committee had more important matters and that time was running out. Many people representing various organizations or themselves, opposed to the bills, were in attendance. While they were speaking, committee members were having private conversations, some left the room, while others went for a coffee break. A Wexford County Commissioner, who supports Natural Rivers was told to be brief. I had asked for 10 minutes. I was interrupted twice by Tabor and had to cut my presentation by a third. Bob Jacobson, president of the Michigan Conservation Foundation, was given 1 minute. Pat Kochanny, president of the Pine River chapter of Trout Unlimited was given 30 seconds. The Michigan United Conservation Clubs spokesman was told that he takes too much time and that they would talk to him later. Andy Guy, the very able representative of the Michigan Land Use Institute was never given the floor. Three spokesmen for the Pine River Property Owners Association, who wished to speak individually had to consolidate and Rep. Bradstreet attempted to badger the two eldest property owners.
The hearing was concluded, the two bills were lumped together and passed. Tabor is a self professed hunter and fisherwoman yet she has voted against 75 to 90 percent of the conservation bills introduced. That she is in charge of the House Conservation Committee speaks for the quality of the people representing us. Bradstreet, who sits on the committee is a dead 0, voting against every conservation bill introduced.
I have attended a number of legislative hearings but this was the most disgusting, sickening that I have ever witnessed. The legislation is now before the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs, which is chaired by Patricia Birkholz. This is horrible legislation that never should have been introduced mush less passed. If you really care about the natural resource that out great grandchildren will one day inherit, then please let your senator, Senator Birkholz and Governor Granholm know of your thoughts. (The bill received a well deserved death in the Senate).
This brings us up to the present day. Susan Tabor has been term limited and is the current National Wild Turkey Federation Women In The Outdoors coordinator for Michigan and Northern Indiana. It was reported this past May that she had received the Marion P. Hammer Woman of Distinction Award by the National Rifle Association in Milwaukee on May 19. The award recognizes women who have demonstrated outstanding performance, among other things – CONSERVATION.
It should be noted that she introduced the house bill that allowed the first dove hunts. At the same time, in 2000 her record shows that she voted 89% against introduced conservation bills, 75% against in 2002 and 62% against in 2003. Her record and actions prove that she is anti conservation, yet she is teaching conservation to other women in our state. I would recommend Susan Tabor for an award but it wouldn’t be the one she expected. As the saying goes…Paybacks Are Hell!
The three enemies that we face within our ranks as hunters, fishermen and outdoorsmen are Apathy, Ignorance and Self Interest. Too many of the present day so called conservation organizations are guilty of these. Many have become one issue organizations that don’t always represent the best interests of their members. As an example, how could the NRA give an award to someone with an anti conservation record? Another so called conservation organization that calls themselves international has paid for full page advertisements during elections promoting candidates with 0 ratings or how about the scare tactics about some candidate that is going to take our guns away, all the while hiding hidden agendas. By the way I am still waiting for Governor Granholm to take our guns away as the boogeymen said she should.