Let Your Voice Be Heard – DNR Seeks Input on Regional Forest Management Plans

December 16, 2012

Forestry & Public Lands, Wildlife

The DNR Forest Resources Division is seeking public comment and input on three draft plans which will serve as the overall guide for the next ten years of forestry compartment planning. The public comment period ends on January 2, 2013 so now is the time to provide your input.

For those who feel that such an effort is a waste of time and “they aren’t going to listen to my comments,” we would suggest otherwise.  Not only are public comments necessary in accordance with Forest Resource Division planning process, consideration of public comment is required as a part of the compliance process required in order for Michigan to maintain its forestry certification status.UPforest

While we would concede that depth and breadth of the plans may be somewhat intimidating, closer inspection reveals that most of our review can be limited to the area of our individual geographic interests. These can be found in Section 4 (Management Area Direction) of each draft plan. If you “click” on Section 4, a complete list of mapping areas for that regional plan is shown. A map legend is available within each Section 1 (Introduction).

Within each of the mapping areas the following information can be found:

  • A summary of use and management.
  • An introduction which includes a projection of harvest acres in the next 10-year period.
  • Management direction for each of the major and some of the minor forest cover types in the MA, including a description of the current condition, desired future condition, 10-year vegetation management objectives, and long-term management issues.
  • Featured wildlife species and habitat specifications.
  • Discussions of rare fish, wildlife, plant management; forest health management; aquatic resources; fire management; recreation; access; and other regional-specific issues, such as oil and gas development.

For your comments to be effective, it is our recommendation to make them area-specific in accordance with these Mapping Area units.  Whether your comments are in support of or opposition to the general description of the resource management activities which are being proposed, we would encourage you to pass those on.

From a macro-resource management perspective, current state leadership has made it clear that there will be a greater emphasis on a natural resource production based economy.  This objective is reinforced by a statement which appears in the FAQ document (click here: RSFMP-FAQs) .

“Over the next 10 years, timber harvest levels are expected to be slightly higher than current production. The acreage of aspen habitat is not anticipated to appreciably change, while the acreage of oak habitat in many areas should continue to transition to mixed pine-oak cover types. The Department of Natural Resources is committed to ensuring a consistent, sustainable supply of timber products. Each plan will outline objectives to achieve desired future conditions, often to balance the groupings of trees based on their varying ages (or age-class distribution) for a specific cover type (e.g., aspen), which may take up to many decades to achieve. Because of this uncertainty, harvest levels can vary greatly from year to year.”

For most of us whose priorities are more heavily weighted on the wildlife habitat side of the equation, aspen harvest and regeneration remains critical.  While it remains our hope that the comment which states that “aspen habitat is not anticipated to appreciably change” is intended to mean no further decline in total acreage, it could also be interpreted to mean that the long term decline in acreage is likely to continue.  If you also support making aspen management a priority, this is a good example of the type of comment that may be worth sharing as a part of the process.

While we would concede that there may be little that any of us can do individually to affect the overall vision for natural resource management here in Michigan, we can certainly nibble at the edges. The link to each of the draft plans follows.  To find out more about the process, please click here.

Western Upper Peninsula plan

Eastern Upper Peninsula plan

Northern Lower Peninsula plan

Comments are to be made via email to forestplancomments@michigan.gov  or by mail to DNR Forest Resources Division, Forest Planning and Operations Section, P.O. Box 30452, Lansing, MI 48909-7952.

About Northern Michigan Conservation Network

The mission of the Northern Michigan Conservation Network is to "connect conservation-minded hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts to those issues affecting Michigan's forests, waters, and wildlife."

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