Huron Manistee—Never Quite Quiet

As I continue to review the details of the new Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) generated by the United States Forest Service (USFS), I’m learning a lot of new details to this story that I’d like to pass along.  Hopefully you can use some of these nuggets in your public comments (see this previous blog for how to submit them by Dec. 21)
You are probably aware, this entire Huron-Manistee National Forest saga was brought on by one man, Mr. Kurt Meister, in a lawsuit against the USFS for failing to provide enough “quiet” areas for “quiet” recreation. He targets firearm hunters and snowmobiles as particularly egregious to his ears while he hikes or cross country skis.
What I learned last night at the USFS Open House is interesting though; from the sound maps (see part E in the SEIS link above) created by the USFS that identify all the possible noise sources that are beyond their control, you can clearly see that the expectation of silence is unrealistic. I can’t get the song “Come on Feel the Noise” by Quiet Riot out of my head ever since I saw these maps.
There are several sources of possible noise in the areas or within a one mile range that the USFS cannot control and that will not be changed, even if firearm hunting and snowmobiling is banned in the 14 areas under review, such as:
  • Military training runs and firing ranges
  • Railroads and State Highways
  • County roads, which allow ORV and snowmobile use on most road shoulders.
  • Active oil/gas well sites and pipelines
  • Utility lines
  • National Forest Service Recreation Sites
  • Nearby snowmobile trails
  • Other NF land where firearm hunting will continue to be allowed
Also right smack dab in the middle of these areas are private land holdings and houses; these landowners will continue to be able to enjoy whatever form of recreation and activities they choose on their property and many of them are firearm hunters.  For some, hunting is the very reason they have held on to this property for so many years.
So is "Alternative 2" in the SEIS (Mr. Meister's proposal) banning the firearm hunter from nearly 70,000 acres going to do anything to make the area quieter? Not really. There is development, there are roads, and there are still going to be hunters and snowmobiles all around these so called quiet areas. These are all the things that are needed to keep a rural economy going, and Alternative 2 is only going to hurt that economy.
Occasional gunshots are expected by everyone during hunting season—it’s Michigan, top 3 in the nation for licensed deer hunters. And I’d like to say, that sound is a welcomed sound—in fact, music to my ears.

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