Here in Minnesota last week, Republican Rep Steve Drazkowski proposed that the state log black walnut trees in two of our state parks to raise money. His bill passed two house committee votes last week, despite testimony from the state's Department Natural Resources opposing the plan.
From the March 26 Star Tribune: Drazkowski said constituents who live near the parks told him they are frustrated by seeing valuable black walnut trees going to waste. Black walnut is used in veneers, furniture and gun stocks and is considered very valuable. Drazkowski said a resident told him he's been offered $5,000 for a tree. "There may be hundreds of thousands of dollars of value there,'' Drazkowski said.
The DNR's legislative director said the two parks have few of the trees and that selling them would raise only about $100,000, hardly the windfall Drazkowski and his supporters envision.
More from the Star Tribune: Steve Morse, executive director of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, said the bill is "outrageous. It borders on crazy. "So are we going to log the big pines at Itasca [State Park]? Red oak and walnut trees are jewels of the southeast region. The last thing we want to do is log them out of our parks.''
The latest word from our State Capital is that pressure from both parties stripped Draskowski's bill from the final House version of an environmental bill, but the Star Tribune reported tonight that it could be resurrected in the coming weeks.
I can only guess that something this ham-handed is what happens when a Republican goes it alone, without the slickly-drafted, stealth legislative templates that groups like ALEC and their supporters have been carpet bombing states with.
From Radiohead's King of Limbs newspaper, The Universal Sigh: That forests are the lungs of the world, we know. That the world needs the forests in order to breathe, we know. But forests are also sources of spirit, as I found when my spirit was so lost.