Blog: Drew YoungeDyke

Election season 2012 will leave its footprint on the region's parks, preserves, and natural resources. Drew Younge Dyke, policy specialist at the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, helps us to look at the environmental impacts of legislation and decode the greenalese.

People, Places and Politics

It's easy to get turned off from politics during election season, unless you're a political junkie or policy wonk like me. Ads turn negative, rhetoric gets ridiculous, and candidates talk past each other with contradictory claims about what their platforms will or won't do. We can't afford to disengage, though; the action that happens in between elections is too important.

I track and analyze environmental legislation for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, the Ann Arbor-based statewide political voice for protecting Michigan's environment. It's a perfect fit for a lawyer and outdoor enthusiast, because I can use my training to benefit the places I love. It is this first-hand look at how legislation proposes to affect those places, though, that makes me realize just how important elections are.

You see, very little of the legislation that gets introduced – or even passed – makes the news. Some of it wreaks absolute havoc on Michigan's environment. For instance, bills were passed this year to allow expanded development on sensitive sand dunes and limit the amount of land the state can own and protect. Just this past week, a bill was introduced to eliminate the Michigan Department of Natural Resources' ability to protect biological diversity and a new bill is expected to force land conservancies to allow motorized access, or else force them to pay property taxes.

You probably won't hear a lot about these issues between now and November, unless you subscribe to Michigan LCV's newsletter, of course. You'll hear about election shenanigans and accusations about candidates, but don't let that dissuade you from looking underneath the politics to look at how your candidates' policies will affect your favorite places.

Underneath all the mud-slinging, the ads and the rhetoric, there are real issues at stake which deserve your attention and your vote. After all, your ability to walk a quiet trail in a nearby nature preserve without diving out of the way of a four-wheeler might depend on it.