The Department of Natural Resources today announced that its updated draft Regional State Forest Management Plans (RSFMPs) – designed to help the DNR sustainably manage Michigan’s nearly 4 million acres of state forest land – are now available on the DNR website, www.michigan.gov/regionalforestplans. The public comment period began on Oct. 1, 2012, and has been extended to March 8, 2013.
The DNR developed the three draft plans – which cover the eastern Upper Peninsula, the western Upper Peninsula and the northern Lower Peninsula – using an inclusive planning effort and input from a diverse group of stakeholders representing government organizations, outdoor recreation, the forest industry, conservation agencies and everyday citizens. Once finalized, the plans will provide long-term, landscape-level direction for resource managers that will guide DNR decisions about activities and treatments on state forest land. The plans also ensure wildlife habitat and opportunities for recreation are protected.
Bill O’Neill, chief of the DNR’s Forest Resources Division (FRD), said an extension of the public review and comment period, which originally was scheduled to run through Jan. 2, 2103, provided an opportunity to update some of the harvest numbers in the drafts based on revisions to a model used to develop the age-class distributions for species managed on an even-aged basis. The updates provide a larger number of harvest acres for a number of species, including aspen.
“It’s important that these draft plans are as comprehensive as possible during the public review period,” said O’Neill, who also serves as state forester. “We put more time into these updated drafts to ensure that the needs of all of our stakeholders are met. While the plans are still in draft form, we’re encouraging everyone who has an interest in our state forest land to review them and provide feedback.”
To help stakeholders navigate the RFSMP process, FRD staff is continuing to hold meetings with stakeholder organizations across the state to discuss questions and concerns regarding the draft plans. If individuals, groups or organizations would like to host or participate in one of these meetings, they may contact Scott Jones, FRD forest management planning specialist, at 517-335-3330, or via email at email@example.com.
Residents with comments or ideas regarding the plans are encouraged to submit them via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to DNR Forest Resources Division, Forest Planning and Operations Section, P.O. Box 30452, Lansing, MI 48909-7952.
Following public review, the DNR will assess the feedback, conduct additional consultation with stakeholders and revise each plan in preparation for final review and approval by the DNR director at a Natural Resources Commission meeting.
For more information about the draft RSFMPs, go to www.michigan.gov/regionalforestplans.