MUNISING — The Hiawatha National Forest encompasses nearly nine hundred thousand acres of the Eastern U.P. Such a vast expanse of forest touches the lives of many Upper Peninsula residents.

Officials from the U.S. Forest Service held the biannual Hiawatha National Forest Friends Meeting today in Munising to give some of those residents a look at the goings–on in the neighboring woods.

“We invite the public to come to learn more about the kinds of projects we’re working on, to hear updates, and also to share any interests or concerns they might have,” said Janel Crooks, Public Affairs Officer for the Hiawatha National Forest. “We have people from recreation, from the timber industry, loggers. We have wildlife groups — just a wide spectrum from ordinary citizens with no particular interest to people with very specific interests.”

Forest Supervisor Cid Morgan spoke about national–level issues, including how a significant portion of the Forest Service’s budget goes to fighting fires and what officials are looking to do to help mitigate that fact. Recreation partnerships were also highlighted, with officials from local trail networks and Pictured Rocks speaking about their respective areas.

Visitors got to take a field trip to the Valley Spur Day Lodge and Grand Island Landing later in the afternoon.