Huron Manistee: Comments Due Dec 21

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.

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