While Huron-Manistee Still in Limbo, Sportsmen Stepped UpMarch 28th, 2011
In looking back at the recent opportunity for public input on the potential ban of firearm hunting and snowmobiling on the Huron-Manistee National Forest, MUCC would like to take this time to applaud the outdoor community for stepping up to the challenge of defending their access to public lands.
More than 9,100 comments were received by the U.S. Forest Service. While about 2,000 of these were form letters, that still leaves more than 7,000 unique comments from people who care about this National Forest.
The U.S. Forest Service is now undertaking the massive task of characterizing these comments; they estimate there are at least 100 unique issues that have been brought forward that they will have to respond to in the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). As of last week, they are working on developing formal management alternatives to address these issues, which will include the “no action” alternative that MUCC has promoted and the “court ordered” proposal which would ban firearm hunting and snowmobiling. Also among the alternatives offered in the draft EIS will be those that include some range of compromise in between, such as re-routing trails or seasonal restrictions. These alternatives will also have to recognize the challenges of enforcing any of these rules on 70,000 acres of public land.
The draft EIS is currently expected by the end of September, which will provide another 60-day window of public input on the alternatives brought forward. In early 2012, the final EIS will go to the court to analyze whether this process and their results met the U.S. Forest Service’s obligations under the court ruling.
It is important to note that no change in access to these lands or their current allowable uses will be put into place until this process has been completed.