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Planning updates

  • Since our last communication in August, here is what the MWHA Planning Team has accomplished:

    • Initiated two new data collection efforts:
      • Historical data since 2000 – compiling data such as waterfowl numbers, harvest numbers, hunter use, permits, non-hunter recreation use of areas, etc. will provide context and support in setting plan priorities and direction
      • New hunter database – by tracking individual hunters, we can now evaluate how many times each hunter uses the area, where they come from, and other demographics to better understand how the areas are used and by whom
    • Developed a Communications Plan to guide both internal and external outreach efforts throughout the planning process
    • Began sending out the MWHA Planning Workgroup’s biweekly meeting notes to MWHA staff to keep them informed and included in the planning process
    • Identified Structured Decision Making (SDM) as the planning method to identify and recommend objectives for the next 10 years
      • Created an internal SDM subgroup to coordinate the process
      • Increased capacity for SDM process and incorporation of other social science by partnering with experts:
        • Dr. Kelly Robinson (Michigan State University), Dr. Mauri Liberati (Michigan State University), and Dr. Emily Pomeranz (MDNR)
      • Conducted Issue Scoping and Prioritization meetings with MWHA staff to identify important issues to address in the planning process
      • Invited waterfowl hunters and non-waterfowl hunting outdoor recreationists to participate in focus groups to share thoughts so that we can understand the important issues related to MWHAs and to inform goals and objectives for the MWHA plan

    Next Steps in the coming months

    • April/May - Conduct seven focus group meetings to understand stakeholder thoughts about MWHAs
      • Two focus groups will be held in each of the three “regions” (Saginaw Bay, Southeast and Southwest) – one for hunters and one for non-hunters
      • One focus group will be held for MWHA groups/clubs
    • July - Host a SDM workshop with MDNR staff to develop draft objectives and alternatives
    • August/September/October - Collect feedback from MDNR staff and stakeholders on draft objectives and alternatives via press releases, survey, and/or webinars
    • Fall – Send out another planning update
    • January/February 2023 – invite feedback on draft MWHA plan
  • Since our last communication in March, here is what the MWHA Planning Team has accomplished:

    • Partnered with Dr. Emily Pomeranz, Wildlife Division Human Dimensions Research Specialist, and Michigan State University Extension to hold 7 focus group meetings in April and May to better understand use, opportunities, and issues surrounding the MWHAs for waterfowl hunters, other hunters, and non-hunting recreationists. Results from these focus groups will help to inform objectives and alternatives in the MWHA plan.
      • 2 focus groups were held in each of the 3 “regions” (Saginaw Bay, Southeast, Southwest) – one each for hunters and other recreationists
      • 1 meeting for hunting clubs/organizations directly associated with MWHAs
    • Began planning for a Conservation Partner Workshop to be held in July to understand how our key partners’ goals and objectives are related to the MWHAs and what they think are the most important issues facing MWHAs, both now and in the future. Similar to focus groups, this information will help inform MWHA Plan objectives and alternatives.
    • Continued preparing for the MDNR staff Structured Decision Making (SDM) workshop in July – identifying participants, sending invitations, and preparing content
    • Determined the need to combine the previously separate planning processes for hunt management and habitat management on the MWHAs. This is in recognition that habitat management cannot be completely separated from discussion of issues around hunt management, nor from discussions around future recreation planning, and vice versa. Combining these planning processes will allow for more comprehensive objectives and alternatives development, will allow for a more thorough consequences and trade-offs review, and will reduce redundancies in planning and writing steps. Scoping efforts to date have not limited discussion topics, and therefore habitat considerations have always been included. Originally, the hunt plan timeline called for completion in and implementation in 2023, while the habitat plan timeline called for completion and implementation in 2024. Now, the combined plan is slated for completion and implementation in early 2024.
    • Developed a plan outline, timeline, and review process
    • Developed a MWHA Plan webpage with information on the planning process, the desired outcomes, planning team, and updates

    Next Steps in the coming months

    • Summer
      • Host the Conservation Partners Workshop in July
      • Host a SDM workshop with MDNR staff to develop draft objectives and alternatives in July
      • Determine if follow-up SDM meeting is needed, to be held in September
      • Evaluate consequences/trade-offs of objectives and alternatives identified during SDM workshop
      • Develop draft list of objectives and alternatives for review
    • Fall
      • Collect feedback from MDNR staff and stakeholders on draft objectives and alternatives via press releases, survey, and/or webinars
      • Send out another planning update