Governor Snyder Vetoes SB 964

By | News, Uncategorized

We have exciting news to report! Today, Governor Snyder vetoed SB 964.  This bill, introduced by Senator Casperson, would have amended the Highway Advertising Act of 1972 solely to benefit the outdoor advertising industry and would have provided no public benefit. The final version of the bill even stripped provisions in the Act that prevent the permitting of billboards in scenic, tree-lined corridors.  Scenic Michigan first voiced opposition to this bill in May 2018 and continued to voice opposition as moved rapidly through both the Senate and House during lame duck.  Despite opposition by Scenic Michigan, the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Michigan Municipal League, and Michigan Environmental Council SB 964 was approved by both the Senate and House in December. But, in the end, our calls and yours to the Governor’s office worked! We are happy to see good sense finally prevailed. Happy New Year!

2018 City Beautiful Essay Contest Winners

By | News

 

Last spring, Scenic Michigan and Keep Michigan Beautiful partnered together in a pilot project aimed at engaging high school students on the topic community design and placemaking. The City Beautiful essay contest, open to all high school juniors and seniors in Flint and Cheboygan, asked students to think and respond to the question, “Does the appearance of your city matter?” The thoughtful responses we received demonstrated community development, historic preservation, downtown marketing, and scenic beautification efforts aren’t lost on today’s youth.  Dileona Stokes and Cameron Conover, two students attending Flint Powers Catholic High School, were selected as the 2018 contest winners.  The students received a cash prize of $500 from Scenic Michigan and Keep Michigan Beautiful, as well as recognition by the City of Flint at the June 11th Flint City Council meeting. Although the Scenic Michigan board has decided not to continue with the essay contest in 2019 due to lack of participation from the invited public schools, the project sparked the board’s interest in looking for other opportunities to continue working with Keep Michigan Beautiful and pursue other partnership-based programs across the state.

Scenic Michigan Ambassadors

By | Newsletter

Do you care deeply about protecting Michigan’s scenic resources? If so, we would love to have you join the Scenic Michigan Ambassador Program. Our mission is large, and it’s challenging to keep abreast of local issues and threats to scenic resources—so we’re hoping that you can help us be more effective and efficient in our work. We envision our ambassadors being our eyes and ears across the state . . . and occasionally, perhaps, even a spokesperson for Scenic Michigan.

By signing up to become an ambassador, you’re not committing yourself to anything but you are helping us identify who our strongest allies are across the state. To start, we’ll ask you to send us pictures of the “good, bad, and ugly,” keep us informed about issues you hear about in your local communities, and help us identify organizations and individuals we can partner with to become more effective in our work. And we’ll welcome any ideas you have for improving the reach of Scenic Michigan across the state. Send Erica an email at erica@scenicmichigan.org if you’re interested in joining our program or if you have questions.

M-134 North Huron Scenic Byway

By | Newsletter

In 2015, M-134 was the first route to be designated as a Scenic Byway under the Pure Michigan Byways program, formally known as Michigan Heritage Routes. This byway is lined with forests, stunning lake views, and charming communities (go to mi134.com to learn more about the communities and attractions along this route). Regrettably, it is also marred in spots by obtrusive advertising signs that detract from the corridor’s beauty and conflict with the intent of the Pure Michigan Byways program.

Scenic Michigan member David Betts has been doing some outstanding work documenting the need for a corridor visual improvement program on M-134; he was the inspiration for our new Scenic Michigan Ambassador Program. Thanks to David’s in-depth research and documentation of signage blight, Scenic Michigan is aware of an issue affecting an important corridor in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We’re looking forward to working with David and other partners in the area to build the local support needed for a corridor visual improvement program along M-134.

Meet Our New Executive Director

By | Newsletter

Erica BriggsScenic Michigan’s board is excited to introduce our new executive director. In January, we hired Erica Briggs to lead Scenic Michigan. Erica worked closed with outgoing director Abby Dart to ensure a smooth transition in organizational leadership. We thank Abby for her years of service to Scenic Michigan and hope you will join with us in welcoming Erica to the Scenic Michigan family.

Erica comes to Scenic Michigan with an extensive background in nonprofit management, transportation and land use policy, communications, legislative affairs, and policy analysis. Her background is a great fit with Scenic Michigan’s needs and many of the goals our board identified in our recent strategic planning process.

As one of her first tasks, Erica has embarked on a listening tour to learn how Scenic Michigan can strengthen past partnerships and build new ones to advance our mission. In addition to meeting with organizational partners, she is interested in reaching out to current and past members to hear your ideas. However, one of her challenges in doing this is that we’ve realized we don’t have email addresses or phone numbers for most of you. Sending out paper mailings is both expensive and time consuming. If you’ve received this mailing, we implore you to take a moment to go to our website (www.scenicmichigan.org) and fill out the contact form prominently featured on our homepage (click the green button below our photo banner that says “Sign Up!”). Or, if you prefer, feel free to call us at 231-725-8116. We look forward to hearing from you soon. – Jim Lagowski

Developing a Scenic Roadmap for Michigan

By | Newsletter

As you may recall from our last newsletter, thanks to the help of a generous donor, Scenic Michigan partnered with the Land Information Access Association in 2017 to produce a report outlining Michigan’s scenic roadway designations and the physical locations of these corridors. We are pleased to report back on some of our interesting findings in this newsletter and direct you to the Resources page on our website to access the full report/map.

We discovered there are approximately 1,450 miles of designated “byways” in Michigan organized in six road categories. The six categories are National Forest Scenic Byway (47 miles), National Scenic Byway (97 miles), Pure Michigan Byway—Historic (413 miles), Pure Michigan Byway—Recreation (438 miles), Pure Michigan Byway—Scenic (223 miles), and Natural Beauty Road (229 miles). The majority of these roads are found in counties bordering the Great Lakes, but there are still hundreds of miles of roads that are inland. Of the 83 counties in Michigan, 43 have one or more road segments classified as National or State Byways, and 30 counties have one or more road segments classified as Natural Beauty Roads. Based on 2010 U.S. Census statistics, approximately 75 percent of the state’s population lives within ten miles of a scenic roadway, and approximately 93 percent of people in Michigan live within 25 miles of a scenic roadway.

In 2018, we’re embarking on a second phase of this project, which involves developing an interactive online map that will be located on our website and provide more detailed information about each scenic byway. We hope this map will not only inspire you to visit these notable corridors in our state, but also join our advocacy efforts to maintain and enhance their scenic beauty.

2018 City Beautiful Essay Contest

By | News

Scenic Michigan and Keep Michigan Beautiful are pleased to announce the launch of our City Beautiful Essay Contest.  Each year, Scenic Michigan and Keep Michigan Beautiful plan to reach out to high school students around the state with the question “Does the appearance of your city matter?”.  We want to hear your stories and insights about how community design, beautification efforts, and scenic beauty impact your quality of life and the health of your community. This year we will present two $500 awards for the best essays we receive on this topic.

This essay contest is open to any high school student who is currently a senior or junior and attending a private or public school in Flint or Cheboygan, Michigan during the 2017-2018 school year. Essays must be received by Friday, May 18th, 2018 by 5pm.

Download essay contest rules and submission guidelines by clicking here.

Scenic Michigan Hires New Executive Director

By | News
Erica Briggs

Scenic Michigan’s board is excited to announce that Erica Briggs has been hired to serve as Scenic Michigan’s new Executive Director. Briggs comes to Scenic Michigan with an extensive background in nonprofit management, transportation and land use policy, communications, legislative affairs, and policy analysis.

“I am thrilled to be working on Scenic Michigan’s important mission to preserve, protect, and enhance Michigan’s scenic resources,” Briggs said. “Michigan is a beautiful state and preserving and enhancing these assets is critical to our state’s economy and ensuring a high quality of life for current and future residents.”

Briggs is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at Michigan State University and most recently served as a Program Manager at the Clean Energy Coalition in Ann Arbor. She serves on the Ann Arbor Planning Commission and currently chairs the board of the Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition.

Briggs lives in Ann Arbor with her husband, two sons, and two cats. She loves exploring scenic Michigan and enjoys biking, running, and camping.

President’s Message—Good News, Bad News

By | News, Newsletter

The good news is that with the help of a major donor, we are completing a Michigan scenic road inventory, the first of its kind. These are roads that have already been designated scenic by some state or local agency. The work is being done by the Land Information Access Association (LIAA). It will help us target specific communities for our help in keeping designated scenic roads scenic. This targeting will help us make more efficient use of our resources. A next step will be to help identify roads that should be designated scenic, and identify ways to keep them scenic, free from the distraction and ugliness of billboards and other forms of roadside blight. A more detailed description of the project can be found elsewhere in this newsletter.

The bad news is that our longtime executive director Abby Dart has decided to retire in early 2018. We have begun the process to replace her with someone who will work with Abby to make a smooth transition in the day-to-day leadership. Those of you who know Abby know she will be sorely missed. If you know someone who should be considered to fill her position, please let me know. Might it be one of you?

City of Livonia receives Scenic Hero Award

By | News, Newsletter

Award given to those who make a lasting contribution to preservation of scenic character

Each year, Scenic Michigan presents the Scenic Hero Award to individuals or organizations that make a significant and lasting contribution to preserving, protecting, and enhancing the scenic character of Michigan’s roads and communities. This year, Scenic Michigan is pleased to present our Scenic Hero Award to the City of Livonia and city attorney Mike Fisher for leading an outstanding and successful effort to prevent construction/addition of electronic/digital billboards in the City of Livonia—thus helping to prevent blight, driver distraction, and deterioration of the scenic qualities of Livonia.

The City of Livonia—with the leadership of Mike Fisher—have set an example for cities throughout Michigan who seek to improve both their visual appearance and quality of life for their residents. Scenic Michigan congratulates these scenic heroes for a job well done!