DNR Public Land Plan Available for Comment

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources draft Public Land Management Strategy is open for public comment. The public land plan, a requirement of PA 240 of 2012 (the Land Cap Bill), was developed with input from conservation and natural resources industry leaders from across Michigan.
The public land plan, which seeks to clarify the “where” and “why” of public land ownership into actionable strategies, outlines three primary goals:
  1. Ensure Recreational Opportunities to Enjoy and Appreciate Michigan’s Natural and Cultural Resources.
  2. Foster the Growth and Stability of Michigan’s Land-Based Natural and Cultural Resources Economies.
  3. Protect Natural Functions and Natural and Cultural Resources
The public land plan was required by the Land Cap Bill of 2012. When the bill was originally introduced, it placed a strict limit on the total acreage that the DNR could own due to concerns by some that the DNR owned too much land. MUCC advocated that randomly picking the amount of acreage the state should own does nothing to ensure that we own the right lands and properly manage them. In order to do that, Michigan needs a comprehensive strategy to guide how, where and when Michigan acquires or divests public land and a strategy that helps guide overall management.
As a result, the bill was amended to require the formation of this strategy, and after it is accepted by the legislature, the cap will be lifted. (MUCC opposed the bill due to its requirement that the legislature approves the strategy in order to lift the cap, but it was successful in making the strategy a part of the bill). The current land cap will be lifted automatically from the southern Lower Peninsula in 2015, but will not be removed from the northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula ( above the “Mason/ Arenac County Line”) unless and until the legislature approves the public land plan.
This strategy is much more important than just as a vehicle to lift the land cap, though; its contents will guide how the DNR prioritizes, buys and sells the land upon which we hunt, fish, trap, hike, ride and camp, and which provides timber, oil, gas, and fuels natural resources economies.  It will also guide future investments in public access sites for waterways and other natural resources.  It’s important that we get it right, because it will affect outdoor recreation for generations to come.
“The process for public participation in Michigan’s land acquisition and disposal strategy and the criteria that the DNR will use to determine which parcels are prioritized for acquisition, disposal or retention, must be clearly spelled out in the final approved plan,” said Erin McDonough, executive director of MUCC, who was also on the advisory committee whose input was used to help develop the plan.
“There should be complete transparency as to how decisions regarding public lands will be made moving forward.  Wildlife, fisheries and the habitat needs of both, as well as the value they provide to Michigan’s economy, must also be clearly incorporated into the overall goals, strategies and criteria.  Valuable habitat and access lands need to be kept in public ownership.”
We encourage you, Michigan’s hunters, anglers and trappers, to review the public land plan and offer your comments, as well, so that we can make sure the final product is the best that it can be.
You can review the plan here, and send comments to dnrlandplan@michigan.gov.

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