AMERICAN LAND SOVEREIGNTY
ACT PASSES THE HOUSE
On May 20, 1999 the US House of Representatives passed the American Land Sovereignty Protection Act which requires that before any federal land can be nominated for the World Heritage List or as a Biosphere Reserve under the Man and Biosphere Program of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Congress must approve it.
Any property which has been previously designated as a Biosphere Reserve will have no force and effect unless it is specifically authorized after the passage of this act and before December 31, 2003. While the World Heritage program was established under a treaty which was ratified by the Senate, the Man and Biosphere Program has never been submitted for ratification. In fact, the US has specifically declined to participate in UNESCO programs because they are so poorly run.
This bill, H.R. 883, was sponsored by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska). A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate as S. 510. The Resolution which allowed consideration of this bill passed by 240 to 178. Rep. James Barcia voted against it. The bill passed on a voice vote.
For more information on these programs, see the articles which appear in the Archives in the Biosphere Reserve section or call Maureen Rudel (362-4747) for copies of the articles you wish.
AMERICAN LAND SOVEREIGNTY
On May 20, 1998, Sen. Ben Knighthorse Campbell (R-Colorado) introduced the Senate version of the American Land Sovereignty Protection Act which is a companion to H.R. 901 introduced by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska). The bill is designed to halt the executive branch's habit of indirectly implementing international agreements which have not been approved by Congress, such as the Convention of Biodiversity, to which the U.S. is not a party and which our country has refused to ratify.
According to Sen. Campbell:
Sen. Campbell's bill reasserts Congress' constitutional role in the creation of rules and regulations governing lands belonging to the United States and its people.
NO BUCKS FOR BIOSPHERES
In the 1998 Interior Department Appropriations bill signed into law on November 14, 1997, the Republicans did get some winners.
In the Administrative Provisions, the act provides that:
The United States Geological Survey is prohibited from conducting biological research activity surveys on private property unless specifically authorized in writing by the property owner.
None of the funds providing appropriations for the Department of the Interior, the Forest Service or the Smithsonian Institution may be used to submit nominations for the designation of Biosphere Reserves pursuant to the Man and Biosphere program administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization unless subsequent legislation is enacted specifically authorizing United States participation in the Man and Biosphere program.
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN BIOLOGICAL STATION
UNITED NATIONS BIOSPHERE RESERVE
A visit to the University of Michigan Biological Station revealed some additional information. The area is about 10,000 acres with about 5 miles of shoreline primarily on the lower half of Douglas Lake, and about one and a half miles of shoreline on the north end of Burt Lake. There are other areas on these lakes that are also included. The property lies between Pellston and I-75 and can be reached by taking the Riggsville Road exit (Exit 322).
The Station has been in existence since 1907 and was denominated as a biosphere reserve in 1979. Along the south side of Douglas Lake are the main facilities. There are a number of faculty cabins, dwellings for students and various community buildings and maintenance facilities. Apparently the faculty and students conduct various experiments during the summer months at the Biological Station.
We did obtain a map of the area and facilities. To view a full sized version of these maps, click on the map you wish to see.
The bill introduced by Rep. Tom Coburn (R.-Okla) which would prohibit funding for UNESCO World Heritage and Man and the Biosphere programs was adopted as an amendment (H.Amdt.143) to the Interior Department Appropriations (H.R. 1757) bill in the House by a voice vote. This bill is now in conference with the Senate.
The American Land Sovereignity Protection Act (HR 901) introduced by Rep. Don Young (R.-Alaska) which would prohibit the U.N. from establishing biosphere reserves in the USA without the approval of Congress passed the House on 10/08/97 by a vote of 236-191. It has now been referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
WHAT IS THE UNITED NATIONS DOING
IN NORTHERN MICHIGAN?
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has currently designated 20 World Heritage Sites and 47 Biosphere Reserves comprising more than 51million acres on U.S. territory, including 68% of all National Parks, monuments and preserves. Each biosphere reserve is nominated by its country's Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Program and is part of an international network of 337 biosphere reserves in 85 countries. Such designations have frequently been used to impose new regulations on public lands -- regulations promulated by international bureaucrats who are not accountable to the American public.
While the World Heritage Convention was signed and ratified as a treaty in 1973, the Man and the Biosphere Program has never been ratified and has been opposed by the Senate. Under the World Heritage Convention certain sites, such as the Statue of Liberty are designated as World Heritage Sites. These are usually owned by the Federal government and managed by the National Park Service. Under the MAB program, while the "core area" is usually owned by a governmental entity, the surrounding areas are often privately owned. The MAB Program is managed by UNESCO, a United Nations program that is so badly managed that the United States has refused to be a part of it since 1984.
According to the U.S. MAB Program, Biosphere Reserve recognition does not convey any control or jurisdiction over such sites to the United Nations or to any other entity. The United States and/or state and local communities where biosphere reserves are located continue to exercise the same jurisdiction as that in place before the designation. Areas are listed only at the request of the country in which they are located, and can be removed from the biosphere reserve list at any time by a request from that country.
According to MAB, a biosphere is a unique category of protected area dedicated to solving problems associated with human impacts on natural ecosystems.
They consist of a "protected" core area in which only activities that do not adversely affect the natural habitat are allowed. These are surrounded by a "managed use" or "buffer zone" (often including private property) in which only activities compatible with the conservation objectives are allowed. These areas are then surrounded by "zones of cooperation" in which conservation and management are controlled, presumably with the input of the local community.
This map lists all of the biosphere reserves in the U.S. No. 24 is Isle Royale and No. 44 is identified as "University of Michigan"
Rep. Don Young of Alaska has introduced legislation (H.R.901) which now has 166 co-sponsors which would require approval of Congress before any area within the United States is subject to an international land use designation. Generally, the core areas are owned or controlled by federal, state or local governments, universities or environmental groups and are nominated by them for the designation. However, in hearings that Rep. Young held on these sites he learned that the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention state:
Rep. Jo Ann Emerson spoke on the House floor on July 15, 1997, about a planned reserve which would have encompassed approximately 2/3 of her district. The entire program was carried on so quietly that none of the communities which would have been involved were advised or consulted. When word finally leaked out about the designation these communities were adamantly opposed to it because of the limitation on development (such as roads or other infrastructure) which would have made it difficult to develop jobs in the poorest areas of her district. When the plan was finally exposed, the opposition killed it.
Rep. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma brought an amendment to the Interior Department appropriations bill to the floor on July 15. This amendment would prohibit the spending of any funds by the federal government on any program which has not been authorized by the Congress. This amendment would make sure that no money went to the MAB Program. Many Democrats who opposed the amendment called the supporters "flat earth" and "black helocopter" believers. However, the amendment did pass by a vote of 222 to 203 and will be part of the negotiations which take place when the Senate and the House go into a conference to decide the final language on the bill.
Some are concerned that these treaties are involving the United Nations increasingly in domestic land use policies. Jeremy Rabkin, professor of government at Cornell University, released a paper in June 1997 for the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) entitled "The Yellowstone Affair" (which can be obtained from CEI by calling (202) 331-1010).
According to CEI, the Yellowstone controversy arose in 1995 from a proposal to develop a Montana mining site, known as the New World Mine, three miles outside the boundries of the park. Yellowstone has been declared both a World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve by the UN. Envionmental advocacy groups denounced the project and appealed to the World Heritage Committee, a UNESCO organ which administers the treaty. The UN agency decared the Park "in danger" as a result of the proposed mining operation. Subsequently, the mining company abandoned its effort to develop its property in the Yellowstone area, under intense pressure from the Clinton administration to trade its claim for other considerations.
Faced with the Southern Appalachian MAB which proposed to take over parts of five states, the Kentucky legislature passed a resolution to attempt to keep either the Federal government or the United Nations from declaring any land in Kentucky part of a biosphere reserve without the approval of the State of Kentucky. As of the present time, the MAB seems to stop at the Kentucky line. Alaska and Colorado have passed similar legislation to stop designations in those states.
When attempting to locate information on the "University of Michigan" site listed at location 44 on the above map, the only thing the writer could find was an entry at us45.htm at www.unesco.org. It identified the location as "45deg. 34'N, 84deg.40'W. The area is described as 4048 hectares (approximately 10,000 acres) of temperate grassland. This site was apparently designated in 1979. The principal monitoring and research themes are listed as: Ecological succession, limnology, hydrobiology, Biological survey and collections, comparative ecological research, and rare/endangered species. The contact person is identified as James A. Teeri, University of Michigan Biological Station, 111 Natural Science Building, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1048. His phone number is given as (313) 763-4461 and FAX as (313) 747-1952.
It is interesting to note that about half of the National Marine Sanctuaries have been placed on the Biosphere Reserve list by NOAA. See "WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THUNDER BAY? AND SHOULD YOU CARE?" in the Archives for further information about National Marine Sanctuaries.
Overview of area of University of Michigan Biological Station
Detail map of Biological Station area