Skip to main content

MWHA planning details

MWHA Strategic Planning Process

There is a long-standing need to set and clarify habitat and hunting management goals and objectives in a strategic plan for the seven Managed Waterfowl Hunt Areas (MWHAs) in the DNR Wildlife Division’s Southeast Region and Southwest Region: Shiawassee River, Nayanquing Point, Fish Point, Harsens Island, Pte. Mouillee, Fennville Farm, and Muskegon County Resource Recovery Center.

MWHA workgroup

The Wildlife Division formed a MWHA workgroup to develop a plan to address this need. Members include Joe Robison (Sponsor), Barb Avers (Chair), Don Poppe, John Darling, Adam Shook, Hunter Pulling, Brandy Dybas-Berger, Kaitlyn Barnes, Mike Richardson, Erin Rowan, and Erin Victory.

Why an MWHA plan is needed

  • Address declining hunter numbers.
  • Address projected declines in budgets and workforce.
  • Identify and address the year-round habitat and recreational value of the MWHAs.
  • Address updated goals and objectives in the Wildlife Division GPS, including managing habitats and wildlife for a diverse set of values (e.g., health, quality of life, ecological, economic, and socio-cultural) and working with communities to improve conservation outcomes.
  • Better tie how these areas and associated habitats contribute to regional and statewide habitat goals, climate resiliency, and local community plans.Identified need to increase Wildlife Division’s relevancy to non-hunting stakeholders.

The plan will

  • Define goals, objectives, and priorities for the MWHAs.
  • Recognize MWHA importance to a diversity of wildlife species and wildlife-related recreation.
  • Identify how MWHAs contribute to the updated Wildlife Division Guiding Principles and Strategies (GPS).
  • Provide management consistency between areas while still recognizing their uniqueness.

The planning process

A formal process called Strategic Decision Making (SDM) will be used to set objectives and develop the plans that is science-based, transparent, and inclusive.

  • There will be multiple opportunities for a diversity of stakeholders to provide input and feedback during the development of the plans.
  • Stakeholder input is valued and necessary and we will be seeking a diversity of perspectives.
  • A range of management alternatives will be identified and evaluated with stakeholder input, and the workgroup will provide recommended alternatives to Wildlife Division leadership, who will make final decisions.

The workgroup places a high priority on communication and engagement, both externally and internally.

  • Engagement will likely include opportunities for online input, structured in-person meetings, surveys, etc.
  • Communication will include regular Planning Updates throughout the planning process.

The expected outcomes of the planning process

  • An evaluation of current managed hunt operations and habitat management and potential alternatives by spring 2023.
  • A 10-year MWHA strategic plan with implementation beginning in 2024.
  • Internal and external engagement to gather input and feedback for plan development.
  • Internal and external Communication Plan.


  • During spring 2022, the workgroup will conduct issues scoping with MWHA staff as well as stakeholders.
  • Summer/Fall 2022, the workgroup will follow a SDM process to develop objectives and alternatives for managing the MWHAs including hunting operations and habitat management.
  • The workgroup will seek input on draft objectives and alternatives throughout fall/winter 2022-2023.
  • An evaluation of the consequences and trade-offs between different management alternatives will occur in spring/summer 2023.
  • Plan writing will begin by summer 2023.
  • Plan completion is anticipated in 2024.
  • Step-down plans for how each area will implement the final objectives and alternatives will be written upon completion of the strategic plan.