One hundred years ago this fall, after lumber barons gouged the northern two-thirds of Michigan of most of its marketable timber and left behind 'slash' that contributed to runaway fires that killed dozens of citizens, the Detroit News editorialized:
“Man and the elements are combining to make this not only a forestless, but a valueless commonwealth…What a commentary is this on state officialdom. What utter neglect it shows of those things for which state officials are elected and appointed.”
Now it's water mining to which state officials are turning a blind eye, thanks to the blandishments of water barons. Michigan runs the risk of becoming a valueless commonwealth, giving away to private parties for their profit its most distinguished public legacy.
Even proponents of the industry have made the explicit comparison to the lumbering era. "The trees were shipped out of here...I don't see water as any different," said the city manager of Evart.
Right now, neither do Gov. Granholm or the bought-and-sold Michigan Senate.