A Question To Ask

Who is really in charge here?

Can the Federal Government own land?

Apparently so, if one reads the constitution.  “The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to prejudice any claims of the United States, or of any particular state..” Stated in Article IV reads fairly clear.

But where are the limits?  If one were to go with that part as it has been interpreted, the congress then has power to declare all land to be under it’s jurisdiction, and subject no longer to the respective states, right?  Obviously not if practice is our guide. At some point there is a limit where the states retain control over their respective borders.  A further restraint on the ability of the federal government and Congress to simply take over land.

Yes, it is ALSO in the constitution.  And YES, it has been ignored. Article 1 Section 8 clearly sets forth a manner under which the federal government may acquire and control property.

“To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings; ..”

Emboldened parts being relevant.

Federal parks in Michigan cannot exist but for the consent of our legislature. So lets assume that “needful buildings” have been erected in said parks.  And lets also assume that there was a chain of events which allowed the federal government to acquire such lands for such purposes by consent as required.

Our federal bureaucracy has declared the use of such lands normally trafficked for recreational purposes, to be not-so-recreational anymore:

The Huron-Manistee National Forest is banning alcohol on certain parts of several Northern Michigan rivers.

…The ban will remain in effect through the summer recreation season from May 24 to September 2.

You cannot have alcohol within 200 feet of:

  • the Ausable River between Mio Dam Pond and 4001 Canoe Landing.
  • the Manistee River between Tippy Dam
  • the Huron-Manistee National Forests’ administrative boundary.
  • the Pine River between Elm Flats and Low Bridge.

It does not apply to private land, developed campgrounds and designated campsites.

The U.S. Forest Service says violating the order could net you a $5,000 fine, or six months in jail.

The message:  Crack a beer and incur the wrath of Elliot Ness.

Say it ain’t so!  Alcohol, and the feds will be all over you?   Haven’t we gone down that road before?

Aside from the goofy ways in which our federal park superintendents want to play congressman, it clearly has impacts on Michigan’s tourism industry.  And State Representative Triston Cole is having none of it.

Cole said the ban on alcohol oversteps federal authority and can only have negative consequences for Michiganders and tourists who enjoy the state’s rivers.

“The State of Michigan has a plethora of laws to protect our water ways,” said Cole, of Mancelona. “Everything from cussing in a canoe to littering and public nuisance is covered. We don’t need redundant rules passed down by a federal bureaucracy to help us take care of the land and water that has been in our state’s care for over 180 years.”

Cole noted that Section 8902 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, MCL 324.8902, already makes littering in a river or water way illegal.

The Huron-Manistee National Forest announced the decision to ban alcohol on the National Wild and Scenic River sections of the AuSable, Manistee and Pine rivers on Wednesday.

Cole criticized the new rule as a misguided, overbearing and ineffective attempt to ensure river health and boater safety, which the state already governs.

“As a state legislator and an avid outdoorsman, I do not appreciate the federal government telling the people of the State of Michigan where a legal adult can enjoy an adult beverage,” Cole said. “Enjoying our waterways is a privilege and this privilege includes allowing visitors to enjoy public waterways in the manner they choose as right and is in accordance with state law. This new rule can only damage our state’s tourism.”

According to a 2017 economic impact study of Michigan’s tourism industry, 5.6 million people made trips to Michigan from outside the state that year and spent $2.1 billion in communities and at local businesses across the state.

“We absolutely need to be good stewards of the sensitive shore lines and ecosystems so they can be enjoyed for generations to come, but micromanaging our state government from Washington is not how to do it,” Cole said. “We have pure, pristine and public waterways all across this state. I believe this new rule sets a dangerous precedent.”

Translation: “Get off our back.  We’ve got this handled.”

Cole is correct.  And if Gretchen Whitmer’s administration is willing to continuously run roughshod over the legislature’s role insofar as the DEQ is concerned, it might well be a little TOO handled.

Bottom line however, is whether our legislature is going to assert its authority in this matter.  The state has claim to this type of activity anyhow.  And unless the federal government is willing to further abridge the constitution by delineating ‘federal land’ as away from the laws of the State of Michigan, it seems we have a bit of a disagreement that needs to be rectified.

It begs a question long protected by the agreement that binds our union.

One we might ask going forward might be: Is consent permanent?”



You Betcha! (11)Nuh Uh.(0)

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