Blacktop down 

Arriving just in time to dovetail nicely with this week’s cover story (“Across the great divide,” page 10), a report jointly produced by the National Wildlife Federation and the Center for Environment & Population has landed on the News Hits desk. The study looks at population growth and land use here in Michigan. You’ve no doubt heard of the term “smart growth.” Well, here in the Wolverine State, what we’re practicing could best be defined as “dumb growth.” For the sake of a little elbow room, we’re gobbling up valuable farm land, extending commute times, adding to global warming and in general screwing things up.

Here’s just one eye-opening stat: “Longer commutes and driving on congested highways in Metropolitan Detroit alone cost state motorists $2 billion a year in burned fuel and wasted time.”

And that was before the price of wasted time hit $3 a gallon.

Even though Michigan’s population is growing at slow rate, we’re rapidly consuming farmland. In fact, land development is occurring eight times faster than the population grows, according to the report. The state ranks ninth in the nation in terms of ag land lost to development.

You can view the full report on the Web at

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact this column at 313-202-8004 or

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