DNR to hold U.P. meetings on forest lands

The Department of Natural Resources today announced that it will hold six meetings across the state in May to meet with stakeholder groups and others interested in discussing comments received during the public review period for its draft Regional State Forest Management Plans (RSFMPs). The plans were designed to help the DNR sustainably manage Michigan’s nearly 4 million acres of state forest land.

The DNR developed the draft RSFMPs – 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 timber management and other activities on state forest land. The plans also ensure wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities are provided.

Some of the topics the meetings will cover include: strategic direction; aspen and timber management; featured species and wildlife habitat; forest areas tied to fisheries and rivers or other bodies of water; and recreational trails.

The U.P. meetings will take place:

May 14, Comfort Inn, 13954 M-28, Newberry

May 15, Ramada Inn, 412 W. Washington St., Marquette

May 16, Best Western Baraga Lakeside Inn, 900 U.S. 41, Baraga

There are two separate meeting times scheduled for each date. From 1 to 5 p.m., there will be a more formal format with facilitator-led discussions based on the topics most relevant to the area. From 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., guests will have an opportunity for one-on-one discussions with representatives from divisions throughout the DNR.

Bill O’Neill, chief of the DNR’s Forest Resources Division, said the department received valuable feedback during the public review period, which ran from Oct. 1, 2012, through March 8, 2103. The public input consisted of 573 comments.

“The comments we received were the first step in getting the draft plans to the point where they will be ready for implementation,” said O’Neill, who also serves as state forester. “These May meetings will give the DNR an opportunity to discuss some key issues and concerns about the management of Michigan’s state forests with active partners, stakeholders and the people who use and enjoy our natural resources.”

Following the public meetings, the DNR will revise each plan in preparation for final review at upcoming Natural Resources Commission meetings and approval by the DNR director. Final approval of the plans is expected in November 2013.

For more information about the meetings or the draft RSFMPs, contact Scott Jones, DNR forest management planning specialist, at 517-335-3330, or visit www.michigan.gov/regionalforestplans.