DNR seeks public input on Alger, Marquette Co. forest plans

The Department of Natural Resources will host an open house on Tuesday, Oct. 2, in Eben Junction to provide information and receive public comment on proposed forest management treatments for 2014 in the Gwinn management unit, which includes Alger and Marquette counties. The open house is set for the following time and location:

  • Oct. 2, 4 to 7 p.m. 
    Superior Central High School, E2865 M-94, Eben Junction 
    (will cover proposed forest treatments in Alger and Marquette counties)

Each year, DNR personnel evaluate one-tenth of the state forest. The inventory provides key decision-making information for foresters and wildlife, fisheries and other resource managers. The age, health, quality and quantity of trees and other vegetation are assessed to enable DNR staff to make informed decisions. Timber management, wildlife and fisheries habitat, minerals, archeological sites, recreational use, wildfire potential and social concerns are just some of the topics taken into consideration during this review.

Because the forest is inventoried approximately two years in advance, a year of entry is assigned to indicate when treatments will be prepared. Information currently under review has a 2014 year of entry. This means that treatment activities on lands being reviewed this year will actually begin in 2014.

Proposed treatments, which may include timber harvesting, replanting and other management activities, are designed to ensure the sustainability of all forest resources.

A specific proposal this year in Mathias Township in Alger County involves the closure of a fire-damaged bridge over the east branch of the Whitefish River. The proposal suggests closing the bridge to full-sized vehicles, but keeping it open for off-road vehicles.

Bill O’Neill, chief of the DNR’s Forest Resources Division, said these open houses are a good way for interested residents, neighbors and stakeholders to learn – well in advance – about the DNR’s proposed treatment plans and to share input toward final decisions on those treatments.

“When it comes to the health and sustainability of our state forests, we’re always thinking several years ahead,” said O’Neill, who also serves as state forester. “We like to do the open houses around the state because the public gets an opportunity to talk with foresters and biologists about issues that matter most to them. It turns out to be a valuable exchange of information and ideas.”

To more easily and efficiently oversee the forest resources, the DNR divides each management unit into smaller units or “compartments.” This year, the compartments under review are in Mathias and Rock River townships (Alger County); and Powell, Champion, Ishpeming, Ely, Humboldt, Chocolay, Tilden, Skandia, Forsyth, Turin and Wells townships (Marquette County).

Maps and information regarding the bridge closure and other proposed treatments will be available at the open house. The information can also be found at www.michigan.gov/forestplan under the Forests, Land & Water section. Compartment review packets for the 2014 year of entry can be found by clicking the “Gwinn” button on the shown map. Records of decisions, recorded timber harvests and other treatments for past years are available on this page.

On Tuesday, Oct. 23, the DNR will complete its formal compartment reviews to decide on final treatment plans for these areas. Those reviews will take place:

  • Oct. 23, 9:30 a.m. 
    Peter White Public Library, 217 N. Front St., Marquette, in the Community Room

Persons with disabilities who need accommodations for either meeting should contact Jim Ferris at 906-346-9201 a minimum of five business days before each meeting.