DNR extends public review period of draft Regional State Forest Management PlansContact:
Scott Jones, 517-335-3330 or Ed Golder
, 517-335-3014 Agency:
Dec. 20, 2012
The Department of Natural Resources today announced that due to the complexity and importance of its draft Regional State Forest Management Plans (RSFMPs) - designed to help the DNR sustainably manage Michigan's nearly 4 million acres of state forest land - it is extending the public review and comment period. The plans will remain posted on the DNR website, www.michigan.gov/regionalforestplans, through March 8, 2013.
The DNR developed the three draft plans - which cover the eastern Upper Peninsula, the western Upper Peninsula and the northern Lower Peninsula - using an inclusive planning effort and input from a diverse group of stakeholders representing government organizations, outdoor recreation, the forest industry, conservation agencies and everyday citizens. Once finalized, the plans will provide long-term, landscape-level direction for resource managers that will guide DNR decisions about activities and treatments on state forest land. The plans also ensure wildlife habitat and opportunities for recreation are protected.
Bill O'Neill, chief of the DNR's Forest Resources Division (FRD), said he received multiple requests to extend the public review and comment period, which originally was scheduled to run through Jan. 2, 2103. Because public input is vital to the plans' success, O'Neill said it was an easy decision.
"Review of the plans has been under way since early October, and while we've already received great feedback, some interested individuals and organizations have asked for more time," explained O'Neill, who also serves as state forester. "We understand that looking over these drafts is a big task and that's why we're accommodating the public review extension. Getting feedback from state forest stakeholders is the only way these forest management plans will truly be comprehensive."
O'Neill said the extension also gives the DNR an opportunity to update some of the harvest numbers in the drafts based on revisions to a model used to develop the age-class distributions for species managed on an even-aged basis. The update will provide a larger number of harvest acres for a number of species, including aspen.
"If our stakeholders are planning on focusing on these areas, we're recommending that they wait until the graphs and harvest numbers are revised to reflect our latest information," O'Neill said. "While you're looking at these drafts, we're also going back and reviewing the plans to make sure they're as accurate as they can be."
Any updates will be reflected on the RSFMP website in mid-January.
To help stakeholders navigate the RFSMP process, FRD staff is setting up meetings across the state to discuss questions and concerns regarding the draft plans. If individuals, groups or organizations would like to host or participate in one of these meetings, they may contact Scott Jones, FRD forest management planning specialist, at 517-335-3330 or via email at email@example.com.
"We want to make sure our staff is as accessible to our stakeholders as possible," O'Neill said. "If the people who rely on, use and treasure our state forest land have any questions while they are reviewing these drafts, we're here to help."
Residents with comments or ideas regarding the plans are encouraged to submit them via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to DNR Forest Resources Division, Forest Planning and Operations Section, P.O. Box 30452, Lansing, MI 48909-7952.
Following public review, the DNR will assess the feedback, consult with stakeholders and revise each plan in preparation for final review and approval by the DNR director at a Natural Resources Commission meeting.
For more information about the draft RSFMPs, go to www.michigan.gov/regionalforestplans.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state's natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.