Comment on Huron-Manistee National Forest Plan

As you might recall, sportsmen and snowmobilers across Michigan overwhelmed the USDA Forest Service with more than 9,000 comments on the proposal to ban gun hunting and snowmobiling within certain areas on the Huron-Manistee National Forests. This proposal was prompted by the result of a legal decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Meister v. USDA Forest Service.
Part II of this story is now upon us, the Huron-Manistee has developed a draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) that presents alternatives related to snowmobile use and firearm use in the 14 areas in question. We now have until December 21, 2011 to weigh in on the alternatives. There will also be several public meetings (see below) to explain the process and turn in your written comments.
If you care to partake in some light reading, the 198 page draft SEIS is available online here. The SEIS is also available in print or on CD by calling (231) 775-5023.
Suffice it to say, at this point, MUCC staff is in the process of wading through this document to help our members better understand how each of the alternatives might affect them. Here are the 4 alternatives outlined in the plan with our initial assessment.
  1. No action alternative. While this keeps things as is, it doesn’t comply with the problems the court case pointed out and probably leaves it open to more legal challenges.
  2. Proposed action. This gives Mr. Meister exactly what he wanted, no snowmobiling or firearm hunting in the 14 areas in question. Clearly MUCC opposes this one.
  3. Change management area designation to align with the current uses of the areas. Basically, if you like how things are right now and want that to be the management goal for these 14 areas, this alternative is probably for you. This alternative allows all firearm hunting and snowmobiling to continue as is.
  4. Change management area designation and mange to provide a less roaded recreation experience. This is the USFS’s preferred alternative, which also allows all firearm hunting and snowmobiling to continue as is. However, the new goal for these 14 areas would be to continue to reduce road mileage density in many of the areas. If you are a hunter that uses these roads and trails to reach their favorite spot, this alternative will probably negatively impact you eventually.
Comments may be submitted as a .pdf document, a format readable in Microsoft Word 2000 or in the body of an e-mail. Comments may be submitted to the Forest Planner, Huron-Manistee National Forests, 1755 S. Mitchell Street, Cadillac, MI  49601 or faxed to (231) 775-5551. Comments may be submitted electronically to: comments-eastern-huron-manistee@fs.fed.us, and with the subject: “Forest Plan SEIS.”
Public meetings will be held around the state to explain the SEIS process and accept written comments:
  • 10/31/11—Holiday Inn Express, 12150 Dixie Hwy., Birch Run, MI, from 4–8 p.m.;
  • 10/31/11—Huron Shores Ranger Station, 5761 North Skeel Rd., Oscoda, MI, from 4–8 p.m.;
  • 11/01/11—The Westin Hotel, 1500 Town Center, Southfield, MI, from 4–8 p.m.;
  • 11/01/11—Mio Ranger Station, 107 McKinley Road, Mio, MI, from 4–8 p.m.;
  • 11/02/11—Causeway Bay Hotel, 6820 South Cedar, Lansing, MI, from 4–8 p.m.;
  • 11/02/11—Days Inn of Manistee, 1462 US 31 South, Manistee, MI, from 4–8 p.m.;
  • 11/03/11—Crowne Plaza, 57000 East 28th St., Grand Rapids, MI, from 4–8 p.m.;
  • 11/03/11— Pleasant Plains Township Hall, 885 Eighth Street, Baldwin, MI, from 4–8 p.m.
For more information, contact Kenneth Arbogast, public affairs officer for the Huron-Manistee National Forests, at (231) 775-5023, Ext. 8726 or visit the forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/hmnf.

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