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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  • Ron

    I like alternative number 3 above.

  • Sbreniser

    It’s public land. If I’m hunting and someone walks through and dosn’t make a noise, it disturbs the game I’m hunting. I don’t like it. But it’s public land. Answer ear plugs!

  • Captdoug69

    This land belongs to people who buy licenses and sporting goods and pay taxes. This is nothing but another attempt to stop hunting and shooting. The courts and liberal judges use taxpayers money to take away from us what we the sportsman finance for everyone to use. Bird watchers don’t buy licenses or ammo. This is another issue like baiting, that should be left up to the educated professionals in their field. Lets tell a judge how to conduct his business. Leave public land open to everyone to pursue anything legal they want to.

    • Rork

      I’m not really in favor of a no-gun rule, even though it would be better for me, both to visit, and to bow hunt – I’m a little worried about deer getting out of hand. But I ask: when a section of stream is made flies only, is that nothing but another attempt to stop fishing? I think not. Does it mean less anglers go there – no, that’s not what happens. We are talking about less than 5% of that land. I actually wonder if a no-gun rule would make those areas more popular than they are now.

      PS: “anything legal” begs the question – we are debating what the law should be. It also makes it out as if there are no conflicts between different users, or that the solution to such conflicting wishes is anarchy. That’s not usually how it gets resolved. I sure don’t want bicycles, dirt-bikes, snow machines, and horses to go just anywhere they want in the public lands near me. Where they are permitted I stay away, cause it is unpleasant or ghastly, but even though those uses are all against my best interests, I agree that some land should be set aside (“condemned”) for those activities. Likewise we have a very few lakes near me with motor restrictions, and they become Mecca’s for the paddlers. We find ways to work it out.

      • Grant D.

        Obviously Rork you are not a true American. A true American knows that limitations of any kind by the government is wrong. You should look around you once in awhile while you are in the Manistee-Huron Forest (if you ever go there). I started hunting in these forests 29 years ago. I know they used to have organized dirt bike races through the area I hunt. i can barely make out the old trail now even though i remember the markers on the trees. In this short period they have disappeared and have had no ill effect on the forest. The two track roads that we used to drive into the woods were blocked by President Clinton, I can barely see where they were in only 15 years. I see your negative and selfish comments on many of the posts here. Any person should be able to enter the forest for Hunting, Fishing, Biking, Horseback Riding, or any other reason that is not injuring another person or destroying the forest, and your selfish thoughts and feelings should be taught to see the limitations that are being pushed upon you. You should be outraged that any person is blocked from the forest.

  • DOJIMOORE

    I FAVOR #3 THIS IS STATE LAND AND THE STATE CLOSES LAND THAT IS CLOSE TO HOMES AND ALLOWS LAND TO BE HUNTED AND SNOWMOBILED AS THEY SEE FIT. THIS RECREATIONAL USE OF STATE LAND GENERATES BUSINESS AND DOLLARS TO THESE COMMUNITES

  • http://www.facebook.com/rapreeb Rap Reeb

    I agree with proposal #3.

  • Owlswing2011

    Public Ground bought and paid for by sportsmen and recreational vehicle users….leave it be….

  • LeBeough

    This sounds like take a little and take a little there until it is all gone. I say leave it as it is (#1) and start collecting money for the legal fight.

  • Alpasoupnorth

    The lawer needs to walk his daughter on the rail trails and leave the woods to the snomobiles and hunters. We can walk there too and he can shoot in the woods with us if wants too. It’s devided already and it works for everybody but the lawyer and the judge. Now two people and a bunch of anti=gun people use a little girl to spend millions of tax dollars to close Federal Land from hunters. But they care not of how much of other peoples money they waste.

  • FISHADDICTUS

    #3 IS THE BEST OPTION. THESE ROADS, I WOULD BET, ARE PLATTED ROADS BY THE COUNTY ROAD COMMISSIONS, AND THEREFORE CAN ONLY BE CLOSED BY THE ROAD COMMISSIONS. WE RAN INTO THAT IN THE SLEEPING BEAR DUNES, JUST SAYIN

  • Rork

    It’s National Forest, not State.
    I’m OK with option #4, and the loss of some snowmobiling (sorry, hate ‘em). Less roads makes the blocks of land bigger, more like wilderness, which I want more of. If you have experienced some of the larger designated wildernesses out west (or U.P.), you know you wouldn’t want roads built all over them.

    • kumi

      So because you hate snowmobiles, snowmobilers and the $30 tag we buy aren’t welcome to the area. Why don’t you tell that to all the lodges and motel and hotel owners that we support oh and the stores, restaurants, pubs, charities, and every other place we dish our hard earned cash too! I’m a hunter as well, when they take one thing they will take the others. Oh let me guess we’re too loud right, but that Harley going down the street with the 140db exhaust is fine right. You don’t like us but a lot of other people do. Lose us and watch businesses fold. I have seen this happen so many times when we had the stretch of bad winters in the late 90’s so many people that depend on snow and snowmobilers lost so much. So go ahead kick us out and watch the economy around you collapse.
      A snowmobiler till I die.

    • flo

      I like the idea of less roads, but I also think snowmobilers should have access. They pump a lot of much needed money into local economies.

    • Rork

      Snow machines will still have trails. But other folks want places to go where such machines are absent – and they spend money too. Getting along means more tourists, not less.

  • Bob Doctor

    I like alternative number 4. Cut out some of the roads and/or trails.

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  • Lbergero

    I’ve been an avid hunter since I was around 7 years old and grew up on a farm in the Lower Peninsula. Today, at 71 years old, I find that the encroachment of business and agriculture upon our public lands, and the unreasonable and vicious closing of our valuable forests to hunting and outdoor recreation is not in keeping with the legacy so honorably left to us by our forefathers. Closing public lands to hunting and recreational activities that encourage the participation of those who otherwise would sit in front of the television, or gamble, drink, party, or simply vegetate propagates the kind of lack of excercise that takes years off our life span and promotes the onset of early aging and disease. Closures of the type suggested are a travesty and I strongly oppose any effort by the uninformed, uninterested, uninvolved, and ignorant of our outdoor wealth to close any of our wonderful public lands to outdoor hunting and recreation.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_R4WVYPYS4JFREMOZIY3NPOW5WU james

    I am a hunter and have to hunt public land .To close this land to hunting would completely take myself and many many others out of the hunting community ! From what I see its just another grab by the anti gun anti hunting groups much like the dove hunting ban that PETA helped push through. This land belongs to all people not just the minority who think their way is the only way!!!

  • Dadac8488

    As my father used to tell us..there’s enough to go around. If we use common sence and logic we can all have a piece of this beautiful property. When one person trys and rule the land for all of us , it’s time to stop. We have been hunting this land with my family for years . We always saw snowmobilies and got along. Walking back on those trails sure felt good after all day in the woods.When we saw other hunters, we always tried to hunt in another direction. In other word we share the land. At no time did we ever think about making our time only our time! When one group of people try and change things that effect everyone else, the word greed comes to mind. If this gentlemen can do this ,where will it end. I only hope that we can find a way to all share this land and let no one person dictate to us all.

  • Patriot1775

    Hunters and snowmobilers have to by licenses or permits to use these public lands. If other people want to use these public lands too they should have to purchase a license or permit to do so. Its only right that if one group has to pay to use the land, then everyone who wants to use it should have to pay. Hunting and snowmobiling have been around for awhile. In my opinion if people want use the land during those times then they should expect to share it with the current users at that time. If they dont want to then they can use the land at some other time, like spring or summer!!. Thats my thought.

  • Rich

    What gives the right for one person to disrupt the recreation of thousands?I have been bowhunting and gun this land for years and never came close to a confrontation with anyone else whether they were birdwatching ,hunting or snowmobiling.Everyone seems to respect the persons “space”.I agree with #3. How many years have everything gone fairly smooth with the recreation of this land until now? Just another foothold the anti hunters are using to disband the rights of others. Rich

  • mcina

    I hope all of you go to one of the public comment sessions and show the same support you show here!!

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