DNR attempts to clarify proposed beach access order, presents deer survey at July NRC

A proposed director’s order that would limit swimming at state-managed beaches garnered the majority of public comment during last week’s monthly Natural Resources Commission (NRC) meeting.

Other topics covered include: 2020 preliminary deer harvest survey results, the state’s land strategy, a fisheries order update and land transactions.

Proposed restrictions on water entry from state-managed beaches

DNR Regulatory Unit Manager Nicole Hunt presented information regarding restricting beach access under certain conditions. Land use order No. 5 of 2021 would “prohibit individuals from exiting a state-managed beach area when entry is prohibited by signage and/or communication by a department employee or their designee.” This language only applies state parks and recreation areas.

Hunt said this prohibition would prevent individuals from entering the water when access is prohibited by signage/communication during: 

  • times of dangerous water conditions
  • The time a water rescue is occurring
  • when bacteria or contaminants are present
  • when other issues are identified that would impact safety, such as vessel wreckage washing ashore to the beach

The DNR stated their intent is that barring entry wouldn’t be solely contingent upon flying a red flag on the beach alone, but rather an assessment of the criteria which will determine access to the beach. This list of criteria, however, is not listed in the land use order. You can access the presentation here

MUCC will be publishing a release that further examines this issue in the next few days.

2020 preliminary deer harvest survey results

The DNR Wildlife Division reported on the 2020 preliminary deer harvest survey results. The survey had a response rate of around 44 percent. There was a 2 percent increase in the licenses purchased from 2019 and about 565,132 people who hunted deer in all the seasons combined, resulting in a 5 percent increase from the previous year. 

It was noted that the number of archers have been relatively stable, while there have been fewer people hunting during the regular firearm and muzzleloader season. More than 410,000 deer were harvested in a combination of all seasons, resulting in a 13 percent increase from the previous year. Buck harvest was not significantly different but antlerless deer harvests increased by over 26 percent. About 50 percent of hunters supported changing the combination license (one buck and one doe statewide), while 26 percent supported eliminating the single deer license. Just over 50 percent supported regional APRs on the buck tag, and 29 percent supported allowing hunters to transfer an unused buck tag.

COVID likely impacted the deer season in Michigan with 9 percent of hunters more likely to purchase a license, 19 percent hunted more often, 8 percent reduced distance traveled, 14 percent more likely to hunt alone, 5 percent harder to locate a hunt area and 8 percent harder to locate a processor. 

State land strategy

The DNR Executive Division presented an update on the state’s land strategy.  The land strategy has gone through several stakeholder feedback processes, and the updated plan will be presented to the Michigan Legislature for final approval. MUCC has provided comments encouraging increased land acquisition in Southern Michigan as well as protecting public lands from solar development whilst supporting solar on state-owned buildings. 

Fisheries order update

DNR Fisheries Division Chief Jim Dexter discussed upcoming proposed changes to the fisheries order. Fisheries order 200 will be split into four different orders in an effort of simplification.

  • FO-200 – Inland Rivers and Streams  Trout and Salmon Regulations
  • FO-252 – Statewide – Lake and Round Whitefish, Cisco, Rainbow Smelt, and Arctic Grayling Regulations
  • FO-253 – Great Lakes and Connecting Waters – Trout and SalmonRegulations
  • FO-254 – Inland Lakes – Trout and Salmon Regulations

Dexter also provided an update on the 2021 spring fish stocking with about 258 stocking trips from six hatcheries, 573 stocked sites, 62,252 miles driven and over 1,500 staff hours on these trips. The spring walleye productions have been able to directly stock about 9.5 million walleye fry with about 3.2 million spring frindlings harvested from ponds. You can access the presentation here

Land transactions

DNR Deputy Director Shannon Lott indicated her intent to sign the oil and gas lease auctions of approximately 24,000 acres in the following counties: Antrim, Bay, Clare, Crawford, Gladwin, Grand Traverse, Iosco, Kalkaska, Lake, Manistee, Midland, Missaukee, Montmorency, Oceana, Ogemaw, Otsego and Presque Isle. Which can be viewed here.

Lott also expressed her intent to sign four proposed land transactions in Crawford, Kalkaska, Roscommon and Presque Isle counties which can be viewed here.

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