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Huron Manistee: Comments Due Dec 21

December 16th, 2011

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.

They have not seen the same influx of comments on the draft SEIS, so MUCC asks everyone to send your comments as soon as possible! See below for some ideas of how to start.

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.

If you care to partake in some light reading, the 198 page draft SEIS is available online here.

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; even though no specific plan would be in place to close roads in these 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.”

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.

Some of you have expressed reservation in writing your own letter to the USFS on this issue. However, this is too critical of an issue to rely on others to get your message across. Examples of personal experience on the Huron-Manistee are critical to explain how these alternatives could negatively or positively impact your recreation.

Again, just to reiterate, MUCC staff cannot do it alone. ALL FORM LETTERS WILL ONLY COUNT AS 1 RESPONSE, so please take some time out from the holiday shopping season and get those comments sent by December 21! If you have any questions or need assistance, please call MUCC Resource Policy Manager Amy Trotter at 517-346-6484.

To get your letter started, here are a few examples:

Dear Planning Team:
I am writing about the Huron-Manistee National Forests SEIS that is considering banning snowmobile use and firearm hunting in Semi-Primitive Non-Motorized Areas on the Forests. My support would be for “Proposed Action Alternative #3″ of the “Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS)” and I oppose Alternatives 1 and 2.

OR

I am writing to you to register my personal support for adopting “Proposed Action Alternative #3″ of the recently released “Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS)”. Alternative 2 would eliminate my annual hunting trip to the Huron Manistee.

OR

I am in SUPPORT of alternative #3!!!! The areas in question should be re-defined as Semi-Primitive Motorized areas and all these areas should remain open to existing firearm hunting and snowmobile usage. Alternative 2 would negatively impact the local economy as well as affect our ability to manage wildlife.

OR

I SUPPORT ALTERNATIVE 3. The areas in question should be redefined as Semi-Primitive Motorized areas and all areas should remain open to existing snowmobile use and firearm hunting.


THEN

You can add your personal experience using the trails and hunting in the Huron Manistee National Forest or any public land in general. The point is that people who rely on public land for recreation must respect all other users of the forest. Complete silence and solitude cannot be expected in these areas (for more on that see our previous blog) and there is plenty of hunting safety regulations in place to ensure safe recreation for any type of user and to minimize conflict.

Make sure you indicate your name and address even if you send by fax or electronically.

  • Lwoll606

    I am totally in support of #3,i used to live in the area and the traffic and the sounds and smell of gunpodwer used to make the area vibrant to most of us and brought loads of commerce to the area.Nowdays that is greatly appreciated by all who remain in the areas in question.Perhaps Mr Meister should have moved to the outback or maybe Alaska! Just a thought!

  • Andrew Kaczanowski

    I support #3! Tell him to move.

  • Dave Osterman

    I support the #3 proposal. I think Mr. Kaczanowski should find another location to live if he doesn’t like the hunters and snowmobilers.

    • Amy Trotter

      I think you mean Mr. Meister ?

  • Rork

    4 is better for me. The snow machines don’t need every last acre, and we don’t need roads making easy access everywhere. I don’t think MUCC or hunters should be pro-road. Our young people who want to do something difficult should have places where they can get away from the lazy people. We are talking about a tiny percent of the land.
    The state recreation areas near me have closed a few two-tracks formerly used by people mostly up to no good, and it has made the hunting areas feel much bigger. Most of the land is still within half a mile of the road ofcourse, but a few places are now a mile to get to.

    • Amy Trotter

      #3 does not add roads, but it will basically maintain the trails and access already available rather than closing roads as has been the case. Our members approved a policy at our 2010 Annual Convention that said we should oppose road closures on federal land where practicable and instead work toward solutions that maintain existing road and trail access.

      • Rork

        The members should change that policy.
        We should be pro-wilderness.

  • Rork

    “Clearly MUCC opposes this one.” It wasn’t made clear for me actually.

    Two insolent questions. 1) Is it because MUCC is in favor of snowmobiles allowed everywhere? I doubt that. 2) If some parcels were “bow only” would that be opposed, and if so why is that different than flies only regs for some fishing areas? Such regs might actually increase use of the area by hunters, as well as non-hunters.

    I think it’s tricky, and like the fishing regs, depends on dose: what percent of the land would have the special regs. It may be clear that we wouldn’t want such regs everywhere, but that does not imply wanting them nowhere, ever.

    • Amy Trotter

      MUCC would never favor eliminating legal firearm hunting on public land where it is currently unless there was a clear scientific-based reason to do so. We already have plenty of safety regulations in place to address most concerns, except those of people who dislike firearms and hunting altogether. Clearly there is a place for snowmobile trails, but their impact is very small in these areas under review–there is no reason to ban them from the existing trails.

      • Rork

        Clear reason might be 1) no harm to the land, 2) greater economic benefit (if that is so is an open question I think; Dan Burgess’s “devastating” is highly dubious). The second sentences stuff about safety is a straw man if ever there were one. I’m asking what is bad about trying to have some bow hunting Meccas on a tiny fraction of the land, and I think you’ve got nothing for that. Don’t think I’m staunchly in favor of that, but I think it is an interesting question.

  • Dan Burgess

    I SUPPORT ALTERNATIVE 3. The areas in question should be redefined as Semi-Primitive Motorized areas and all areas should remain open to existing snowmobile use and firearm hunting. I have been hunting, fishing and hiking in Manistee National Forest for twenty-years and would like to continue to do so. The economic impact would be devastating to the local economies affected by this ban.

    Thank You
    Daniel Burgess
    211 Minnetonka
    Oxford, MI 48371

    • Amy Trotter

      Make sure you email this to the above address if you haven’t already! Thanks for your support!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=501265935 Donald McChristian Jr.

    Sent my email out…thanks I dont want to see any public land.lost to hunters or snowmobilers!

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