Elder applauds delay for Tobico Marsh decision

MIDLAND DAILY NEWS

by John Kennett, jkennett@mdn.net

State Rep. Brian K. Elder, D-Bay City, spoke Tuesday praising the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for its decision to postpone action on the Tobico Marsh in Bay County.

At the request of Elder, a public meeting took place to allow MDNR representatives to explain their plan and answer community questions. Due to the large turnout, which resulted in a last-minute venue change to accommodate all interested parties, the MDNR has now agreed to delay its decision on the project.

"I'm greatly appreciative of (MDNR) Director Keith Creagh granting my request to hold last night's public meeting, as it revealed that a lot of my people have legitimate questions about problems with the project," Elder said. "Many of those attending, myself including, are avid hunters and anglers, yet there was a lot of confusion about what exactly these changes would be, and why they were necessary. If the department cannot answer these basic questions, then postponing the decision on this plan is the right call."

The proposed plan would potentially expand hunting grounds in the Tobico Marsh area, yet at the public meeting on Aug. 7, residents expressed concern about the changes, and called into question whether an expansion of the grounds was either necessary or safe. As a result of public comment, the Natural Resources Commission has agreed to delay voting on the proposal until a later date.

"We care about the environment, we care about the community, and we care about each other," Elder said. "The people present at the meeting weren't there because they loved controversy -- they were there because they're invested in making sure that a decision of that size would have a truly positive outcome for all. The plan that the department showed us on Monday would not have accomplished that, so I am glad to see the commission is willing to regroup and gather more information before making a decision."

Carly Fox