July Natural Resources Commission Recap, Transparency Issues a Focus for MUCC

Lack of transparency was a focal point for MUCC at July’s Natural Resources Commission (NRC) meeting.

Michigan United Conservation Clubs Executive Director Amy Trotter expressed the organization’s frustration and concern with commission and department processes in recent months.

Trotter’s testimony pointed towards the recent deer regulation process and sunset of regulations in the CWD experiment area.

“While the decision to create a sunset was done in a transparent manner with a robust discussion, the sunset expiration went forward without comment.” Trotter said, “Moving forward, ensuring the public is well informed both about the regulatory cycle for decisions and any forthcoming sunsets is critical for transparency.”

The NRC and DNR failed to communicate the sunset — public notice of previous sunsets had been normal practice, particularly on hot-button issues like deer regulations — of the antler point restriction (APR) study in five lower peninsula counties. 

The study, meant to measure the impacts of APRs on antlerless harvest in chronic wasting disease (CWD) zones, sunset after the 2021 hunting season as the result of a 2020 amendment to the wildlife conservation order

MUCC does not have a position on APRs but is supportive of exploring new scientific management techniques to combat wildlife disease. 

DNR Marketing and Outreach Division staff Kristin Phillips gave a presentation on the hunting and fishing digests in which it was divulged that the DNR will no longer be printing the waterfowl, elk and fall turkey digests for 2022. 

The department cited increased costs to not only paper and printing but also shipping costs forcing wildlife division to adapt. Members of the public can still request a physical copy, which will be printed black and white on standard 8.5×11” office paper. DNR Director Dan Eichinger did admit that there was a certain amount of inevitability to switching to a digital only format in the future.

There were no new directors orders, or NRC orders up for consideration.

There were six land transactions on the agenda, and MUCC only reviews transactions 80 acres or larger, of which there was one. Land transaction two is an acquisition of 80 acres currently bordered on three sides by state land. MUCC supports this acquisition. 

Prior to the NRC Committee of the Whole, the fisheries committee received two presentations: one from Gary Whelan of DNR Fisheries Division on fisheries research overview and the second was a presentation of numerous upcoming fisheries orders by Seth Herbst.

These Fisheries Orders will be in front of the commission over the course of the August and September commission meetings. Stay tuned to MUCC’s blogs and social media for more information as the text of these orders become publicly available. 

To ensure our natural resources remain protected and managed thoughtfully in perpetuity, join Michigan United Conservation Clubs today: http://bit.ly/JoinMUCC.

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