Department of Natural Resources
Sept. 20, 2021
Residents invited to offer feedback on proposed actions by Oct. 8
Alcona, Calhoun, Emmet, Houghton, Keweenaw, Mackinac, Macomb, Mason, Oceana and St. Clair - if you spend time hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, birding or otherwise enjoying the outdoors on public lands in any of these counties, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources wants your attention.
The DNR has completed review of this third group of counties as part of the department's multiyear state land review process and is determining which parcels best meet its goal of delivering broad public access to quality outdoor recreation opportunities, while also protecting natural and cultural resources on those lands. The public is invited to participate in virtual meetings Sept. 29 and 30 to share their input on the outcomes of that review.
"We set out to carefully evaluate the more than 13,000 acres set for review in these 10 counties, and then either retain them as important to the DNR mission, protect them through conservation partners, trade to consolidate state ownership or make them available for sale to the public through auction," said Scott Whitcomb, DNR senior adviser for wildlife and public lands.
It's a long-term, detailed process that Whitcomb said helps ensure the DNR is focused on the lands with the greatest conservation, recreation and resource management potential on behalf of Michigan residents.
"We are now at a point in the review of the third group of counties where the next important step is to hear from the public - the people who know these local areas and use them in a variety of ways - about their ideas on the initial recommendations," Whitcomb said. "We got a great response from earlier public reviews and, using local knowledge of the areas, made several corrections to our maps and ownership records, underscoring how important it is to have this input."
The classification label for each parcel may be based, in part, on the natural or cultural resources present on the land; how the land is used, accessed or managed; and whether the land contributes to the department's mission. The DNR's initial recommended classifications for the public land on these 10 counties break down as follows: retain (66%), offer to alternate conservation partner (4.8%), exchange (1.6%) or dispose (27.6%).
The DNR is hosting two virtual public meetings Wednesday, Sept. 29, and Thursday, Sept. 30, to gather input. Information on both meetings can be found below.
You don't have to have Microsoft Teams on your computer or smart device to join, but please note that each link is specific to its meeting date and time, and the links will not be live or accessible until each meeting is "opened" by the moderator. Anyone without access to a computer may call in using the phone number provided.
People unable to participate can view a recording of the public meeting presentation, available on the DNR's State Land Review webpage, along with additional updates that will be posted throughout the process.
For additional resources on public lands, visit Michigan.gov/PublicLands. For special accommodations requests, contact Jessica Mistak at 906-280-8876.
Aside from public meetings and through the interactive map, feedback on these initial recommendations for this third group of counties can be submitted via email through Oct. 8 at DNR-StateLandReview@Michigan.gov.
All comments received will be taken into consideration as DNR staff develops recommendations for the DNR director's final decision, which will occur at a future public meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission.
DNR land managers already are at work on the initial review phases for the fourth group of 10 counties. Those recommendations are expected to be available for public review early next year.
With nearly 4.6 million acres of public lands to take care of, the DNR makes many decisions about how best to manage the state parks, trails, game and wildlife areas, forests and developed facilities (like boat launches and fish hatcheries) that belong to the people of Michigan.
In 2013, the DNR developed a public land strategy aimed at guiding public land ownership and maximizing benefits to residents and the state's natural resources. That strategy called for DNR land managers - using an approach that cuts across different land uses and multiple management levels and perspectives - to review approximately 240,000 acres of public land statewide to determine their contribution to meeting the DNR's mission. Those 240,000 acres includes parcels that are 1.) 200 acres or smaller in size, or 2.) difficult to manage due to irregular shape, resulting in a significant shared private-public boundary. The strategy calling for this review was approved in September 2018, and work began in early 2020 to determine next steps.
DNR land managers decided on a county-by-county approach, with all counties placed into one of eight groups for review. The DNR team will review the groups one at a time to work through the evaluation, public review and final recommendation process for each group. A single group review will take about five to six months to complete, and the DNR expects to get through all 83 counties by the end of 2023.