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.

  • K8vf

    PLUS, that ONE person filed the suit as plaintiff, but is in fact an attorney and will be PAID FOR HIS EFFORTS (if he wins)to destroy the current use of the Current national Forest areas.

    Option 3 is the only option for most of us….(Change the plan to be as it is currently utilized.)

  • CL

    Wonder how often he has visited some of the areas??

    17 areas–I suspect he will never see some of them.

  • Dick Brown

    This makes no sense, the area includes a major highway, several County roads, established snowmobile trails the Ausable River, and Trout streams all of which are used year around by thousands of people.

  • Therays444

    If Meister wins his case many small businesses will have to close as they are dependent on hunters bringing them revenue. I moved to this area specifically because I was near the forest where I love to hunt. The Curtisville Area which is one proposed in the plan is the very area I hunt, walk my dogs, hike and geocache in. Sometimes I target practice there too. All in good, safe fun. Option 3, leaving it where it stands, is the only viable option in my opinion.

  • Tom Springer

    As someone who doesn’t hunt — but supports hunting and hunters — I think Meister’s case should bring more attention to the need for additional user’s fee. For instance, I like to x-c ski and personally find the whine of snowmobiles to be extremely annoying. However, if there’s a portion of natural land that’s kept snowmobile-free for my benefit, then I should expect fo pay for that. Why not institute a $10 per year Quiet Use pass for hikers, berry pickers, birdwatchers and assorted navel gazers like me? A pair of SmartWool socks costs more than that! If we want to use the resource, it’s only fair that we shair the cost of maintenance.

  • Dean

    It’s Public Land!!!! If he wants his perfect piece of paradise, tell him to go buy his own!

  • Funk

    Thisis foolish that a law suit of this type, made it this far. It is a case for the vocal minority running roug-shod over the “SILENT MAJORITY”. Just anouther case of a professional “sewer” in action!

  • JD

    Every one has the right to enjoy this forest area,in lawful,and respectful manor,(including Mr.Meister)But to sew, because he can’t find enough quiet,in this massive wilderness area, is simply bullshit.I think this selfish act has a alternative motive.

  • Mike Hill

    If Mr. Meister wants a quite area then he should also be band from using this area. The noise he’s creating with the swishing of his skis and the crunching of leaves underfoot is objectionable to the wildlife in the area. Oh yea, they can’t file a stupid lawsut to complain. Get real, this never should have gotten this far. One person objecting to the enjoyment of thousands of others should have been trashed the minute he filed anything. What a waste of time , money and resources.

  • Jim Launstein

    To the people receving comments about the Huron-Manistee national forest. Mr, Meisters proposal for quiet area of an additional 70,000 foolish! How much money will be lost from income by snomobilers, hunters, bikers?
    Mr, Meister wants to control the Huron-Manistee national forest for his daughters to hike in. He should get off his high and mighty back side and find a quiet area if he thinks there
    might be one. There are always going to noises in the forest, maybe a plane will fly over or a bird might be too loud.
    I couldn’t believe a judge would listen to such foolishness.
    The U.S.F&G. has already cut off several miles of trails that we used to snomobile on in Newaygo county (Bitely area)
    for a butterfly.;
    I have arthritis and have some problems walking any great distance, so I am opposed to any more QUIET AREAS!
    Jim Launstein

  • Mainganikan

    Perhaps we should take up a collection to move Kurt Meister to a remote area of Alaska where he will be able to enjoy the solitude and quiet. This looks like a ploy to stop hunting and snowmobiling. Typically in the US we seem to cave in to the vocal minority and ignore the masses. The incidence of noise in todays world is a fact of life and if he ever gets in an area with no noise he will find he feel very uncomfortable- This happened to me a few years “hunting” after a snow that clung to everything and was a perfevct sound dampner. Until I figured out what was happening I had a terrible sence of forboding. Be careful what you wish for.

    • Keith

      We have a cabin in Alaska. Out in the middle of nowhere 3hours by plane from Anchorage. At almost any given time you can here planes and boats passing by somewhere nearby. Such a place as silence only exists in our minds.

  • Tom Springer

    Here’s the larger problem: sales of hunting licenses continue to decline by 2-3 per cent annually. (The number of small game licenses sold has declined by 50 percent in the past 12 years). So yes, Kurt Meister can use his legal clout to circumvent the masses, most of whom think he’s cranky and unreasonable because he wants to limit conventional uses such as hunting and snowmobiling. But here’s the reality: in 20 years, the quiet use crowd may equal or out number hunters if current trends continue. This sea change will require that public land be managed with different priorities: more mature timber (less need to maintain forage base for large deer herds); less motorized access to trails (because quiet use types want no part of loud, smelly, engines that disturb the peace); more kayak and canoe-only lakes and waterways (a long overdue change, in my opinion). You’ll also see more focus on restored native habitat, such as prairies and wetlands, because these support the songbirds and widlife that quiet use types like to view –but not shoot. As society becomes more urbanized, the hunting way of life will be marginalized if the number of hunters, trappers and even fishermen continues to decline. All I can say is get used to the Meisters of the world, and hope and pray that MUCC can fight the good fight. We need a logical strategy that can help retain what’s non-negotiable, and be prepared to cede some of the rest.

  • Ken48827

    Wow. I’ve always wanted a wilderness experience for hunting only in Michigan where all motorized vehicles are banned. A person would have to hike in, camp, and haul everything out when they are done. There are lots of places in Colorado where this is done. Not once have they considered banning hunting.

  • Karbogast

    Please be certain to also submit your comments directly to the Forest Service in writing by e-mail, fax, letter or on the Huron-Manistee website.
    Comments posted here are not analyzed by the Forest Service. By submitting a comment to the Forest Service, you also receive standing to appeal the final decision if you disagree.
    Thank you kindly.
    Kenneth Arbogast
    Huron-Manistee Public Affairs Officer

  • Carl Schardt

    The National Forest Service has already cut off too many roads in the Manistee River and Briar Hill areas. The lawsuit that I was expecting was one against the USFS for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. I am not permanently disabled as of today, but my ability to walk has dropped from 12 miles a day to maybe a mile today. Cutting off the roads had severely limited my hunting opportunities as well as opportunities to enjoy the forest in other ways. Perhaps this attorney can go to bat for the disabled next time, instead of just himself.

  • 72Oly300

    Regardless of your preference for outdoor recreation – Michigan is a relatively small in physical size state – with a fairly large population. “Quiet” outdoor recreation may be a desire for some – but if we take away firearms, and those other “undesirable” forms of motorized recreation – I need to go tell my friends the farmers and the loggers – (and heaven forbid if someone is cutting firewood) – they will obviously be next. I’ve lived in western states and seen the “room” they have……. That “ain’t” us here in the Big Mitten.

  • Gelindquist

    I see logging was left off the list. Is that because the forest service is not doing the logging they are supposed to be doing as per their own management plan?

    • Amy Trotter

      That is a good point, I will have more on the wildlife impact/habitat side of this analysis soon. Loggin wasn’t on the noise maps, probably because its not a “fixed” noise source like a permanent trail is. Logging jobs move around and can be sporadic…just like the noise from firearm hunters. This would be great to include in your comments to USFS.

  • Ronstaxi

    Thats Right this is Michigan and I say . Love it Or leave it. I love it and Hunt, Hike,Fish,Ice Fish,Cross Country Ski, and Do all the things that I can ,Out of Doors in this Great State Why cant we all just get along. I for one am getting tired of all the whinnig where is the chesse, to go with it, thats right Pinconning what a Great State, We The Pepole live in.Thats right I said We not just I, The gun shot noise that is heard now and then in a hunting situation is very miner whats next no fly over this area I for one am sick of this stuff get a life and thats right this whinning ofends me .

  • Pat Babcock

    Meister appears to be an activist malcontent who wanted his name in lights. He has that now. His claim that there should be silence in the forest is, frankly, preposterous and it is a sign of the times that an individual with a complaint has gotten this much attention. This is like buying a house next to an international airport, and then demanding that they reduce the noise. There are better uses of my tax dollars than entertaining such…

  • Tgregory26

    Attorney general: Michigan gun owners can use silencers, suppressors

    • Amy Trotter

      Can you tell us more about that?

      • Tgregory26

        Michigan Gets Quiet
        By Joel E. Fulton

        On September 2, 2011, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette issued an opinion which will now allow citizen’s of the State of Michigan to join the citizens of 38 other states in the legal possession of sound suppression devices. AG Bill Schuette used the same logic in this opinion as was used by former AG Mike Cox to allow Michiganians to possess fully automatic machine guns manufactured before 1986.

        AG Bill Schuette has been supported in his decision by constitutional County Sheriff’s Michael Raines of Eaton County and Dar Leaf of Barry County. This interpretation of current Michigan law is consistent with all of the Federal rules regulating the transfer of devices controlled by the National Firearms Act of 1934. Every person wishing to purchase a sound suppression device for their firearm must first obtain permission from their chief local law enforcement official, be fingerprinted, submit photos, submit to a Federal criminal background check, and pay a $200 transfer tax.

        The benefit to citizens will be the ability to defend ones home or vehicle without having to destroy ones hearing with the discharge of a firearm in a confined space. In addition, as in Europe, sound suppression devices will go a long way toward noise abatement. It is now possible to shoot in the back yard without disturbing your neighbor’s sleep who works third shift, upset their livestock, or sight in your firearms without upsetting the woods right before hunting season.

        The benefits of these devices are numerous and with the legal hurdles and regulations in place for them, they are very unlikely to find their way into the hands of criminals. Attorney General Bill Schuette in expressing an opinion allowing sound suppression devices on firearms has done nothing more than put a muffler on a lawnmower. It is quiet and courteous and makes the shooting sports more social and enjoyable by making it safe to shoot without having to wear cumbersome ear protection.

        Joel Fulton is the President of Freedom Firearms in Battle Creek Michigan and has worked extensively on a volunteer basis with the Michigan Attorney General’s Office on Concealed Pistol License Reciprocity

  • Pingback: Comments are Due on Huron-Manistee Forest Action Plan | Northern Michigan Conservation Network()