Input on U.P. forest plans this week

The Department of Natural Resources will host an open house Wednesday, June 26, in Baraga to provide information and receive public comment on proposed forest management treatments for 2015 in the Baraga management unit, which includes Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw and Ontonagon counties. The open house is set for:

* *Wednesday, June 26, 3 to 7 p.m.
Baraga Operations Service Center, 427 US-41 North, Baraga
*(will cover proposed forest treatments in Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw and Ontonagon 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 2015 year of entry. This means that treatment activities on lands being reviewed this year will actually begin in 2015.

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

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.

“This is an excellent opportunity for the public to weigh in on what the DNR is doing to sustainably manage Michigan’s state forest land,” said O’Neill, who also serves as state forester. “Interested folks can take a look at proposed management plans and talk face-to-face with foresters and biologists about their questions and concerns. Having active partners in the management of our state forests is crucial to meeting the recreation, economic and conservation needs of current and future generations.”

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 Arvon, Baraga, Covington and L’Anse townships (Baraga County); Elm River, Laird, Portage and Torch Lake townships (Houghton County); Bohemia Township (Ontonagon County); and Sherman Township (Keweenaw County).

Maps and information regarding proposed treatments will be available at the open house. The information can also be found at [ ]. Compartment review packets for the 2015 year of entry can be found by selecting the shown map and clicking on the “Baraga” button. Records of decisions, recorded timber harvests and other treatments for past years are available on this page.

On Wednesday, July 17, the DNR will complete its formal compartment review to decide on final treatment plans for these areas. That review will take place:

* *Wednesday, July 17, 9:30 a.m.
*Baraga Operations Service Center, 427 US-41 North, Baraga

Persons with disabilities who need accommodations for either meeting should contact Don Mankee, 906-353-6651, ext. 109, a minimum of five business days before each meeting.