DNR Fisheries Plan Released Today

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division released its five-year strategic plan, “Charting the Course,” today. The DNR fisheries plan outlines the broad goals, objectives and strategies that will guide the division’s operations from 2013 through 2017, with more detailed implementation action plans to follow.

The fisheries plan was open for public input from January through February. MUCC submitted comments praising the broad direction of the plan while recognizing that it could have been more specific. The final fisheries plan changed very little from the draft. The most significant addition was a section addressing the specificity issue by stating that the 2013-2017 strategic plan was intentionally broad to allow for adaptation to changing conditions and that time-specific, detailed action plans will be developed for each strategy contained in the new plan.

The fisheries plan lists five broad goals that the division will work to achieve through the strategies in the plan and the forthcoming detailed action plans: Healthy Aquatic Ecosystems & Sustainable Fish Populations, Diverse Fishing Opportunities, Strategic Resource Partnerships, Strategically Focused Assessment & Decision Support Tools, and Efficient Division Operations.

The fisheries plan also contains a “Funding Reality Check” that makes the case for what the division would do with additional funding, such as is proposed by Governor Snyder’s license restructuring proposal. MUCC compared the fisheries-related projected outcomes of the license package and found that they aligned with the Fisheries Division strategic plan, including sections related to improving fisheries habitat through partnerships, fixing hatchery infrastructure and angler outreach.

“This is an example of the transparency that MUCC and other conservation groups have been asking of the DNR, and we expect that the forthcoming action plans will further provide metrics by which to hold the division accountable for achieving its goals,” said Erin McDonough, Executive Director of MUCC. “We look forward to seeing the detailed action plans and learning more about the metrics they will contain, so that we can keep our members informed.”

In total, the proposed license package would support $5,377,800 in direct fisheries expenditures. This includes $1 million each for technical assistance for habitat improvement on cold-water streams and increased creel surveys on inland waters, just under half a million for increased outreach to perch, bluegill and bass anglers, just under a million for fixing infrastructure at hatcheries, and just over $1.9 million in stakeholder grants for habitat improvement in inland lakes and streams.

MUCC released a detailed white paper supporting the license fee package, which can be downloaded here. In addition to the habitat work it will support, the license fee package will put more conservation officers on the ground and reflects the DNR’s improving transparency. Conservation efforts in Michigan are funded almost entirely by hunters and anglers through license fees and federal excise taxes on sporting equipment through the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Acts, so the proposed license package represents a voluntary investment in Michigan’s natural resources by those who use them.

Contact your legislator today and tell them you support investment in our natural resources, too!

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