|GLTPA President, Denny Olson-|
When it comes to outdoor recreation, many states in the Midwest offer wonderful opportunities and scenery for activities on and off the water, and in different climates.
But while some people love activities that embrace the peace and quiet of nature, others appreciate nature’s view by gearing up their snowmobiles or tracking the “big one” during the designated season.
According to Justin McDaniel, Assistant Editor of NRAhuntersrights.org, a forest user and MI cabin owner named Kurt Meister began a five-year legal battle in 2007, claiming people who enjoy quiet recreational activities in Michigan’s Huron-Manistee National Forests got the short end of the stick compared to hunters and snowmobile riders.
Now, half a decade later, the U.S. Forest Service has released the Record of Decision and the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement that addresses issues stemming from that lawsuit in federal court over gun hunting and snowmobiling in the Huron-Manistee National Forests.
In 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit found that the Forest Service failed to comply with several of its own regulations and a federal statute during revision of the 2006 Land and Resource Management Plan for the Huron-Manistee National Forests. The issues revolved around the plaintiff’s concerns that the agency favored gun hunters and snowmobile users over other people participating in quiet recreation activities.
On January 27, 2012, the Regional Forester, Charles L. Myers, signed the Record of Decision for the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) and Amendment 1 to the 2006 Forest Plan. In summary, the Regional Forester selected Alternative 4 (the Preferred Alternative) as the Selected Alternative.
Under the Selected Alternative, the Forest Service will:
• Continue to allow gun hunting in the previously designated Semiprimitive Nonmotorized and Primitive areas of the Huron-Manistee National Forests in accordance with regulations of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
• Continue to allow snowmobiling on designated trails within the Huron-Manistee National Forests.
• Change Management Area designation of 11 of the 13 previously designated Semiprimitive Nonmotorized Areas to Management Area 8.4 (Special Areas). The existing Standards and Guidelines for Management Area 6.1 (Semiprimitive Nonmotorized) would continue to apply to these 11 new 8.4 Special Area Management Areas as outlined in the Record of Decision.
• Change Management area designation of two previously designated Semiprimitive Nonmotorized Areas (Manistee River and Whitewater Creek) to Management Area 4.2 (Roaded Natural Sandy Plains and Hills). The areas will be managed under the Standards and Guidelines for Management Area 4.2.
Under the Selected Alternative, the Forest Service will:
• Retain the Management Area 5.1 (Wilderness) designation for the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area.
• Recreation Opportunity Spectrum classifications for all of the 14 challenged areas will be changed to match their current condition, as described in the Record of Decision.
The specific rationale behind the Selected Alternative is fully explained in the Record of Decision. Appendix A of the Record of Decision shows how the Selected Alternative will change the 2006 Forest Plan.
McDaniel says this plan, however, isn’t set in stone just yet. It must meet the standards of the Sixth Circuit’s ruling, which will be determined after the Department of Justice submits the Record of Decision to Detroit’s U.S. District Court. Furthermore, McDaniel says, the decision will face a public appeal period of 45 days.
He goes on to discuss H.R. 2834, which is the “Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act, [that] safeguards hunting, fishing and recreational shooting from arbitrary closure on federal lands.” He says “the closures or restrictions must be necessary and reasonable and supported by facts and evidence.”
The House floor, McDaniels says, should expect to review H.R. 2834 March 2012; a Senate version of the bill was introduced in February.
The Record of Decision and associated documents are posted on the Huron-Manistee National Forests’ website: www.fs.usda.gov/hmnf. The published documents will be available in March and mailed to all people who previously requested a copy. If you have not previously requested a copy, you may request a copy by calling the Forest Supervisor’s Office at (231) 775-2421.
Once the documents have been released to the public, a Notice of Availability will be published in the Federal Register and the newspaper of record, which will begin a 45-day appeal period. The Forest Service will notify the public by news release and website posting when the Notice of Availability has been published.
For additional information regarding the Record of Decision or the FSEIS, contact the public affairs officer for the Huron-Manistee National Forests, Kenneth Arbogast, at (231) 775-5023, Ext. 8726, or firstname.lastname@example.org. To read the full version of Justin McDaniel’s article, visit http://www.ammoland.com/2012/02/06/michigan-hunters-rights-preserved-in-huron-manistee-forest-lawsuit-ruling/.
Like many of you I enjoy my hunting privileges immensely. Being a Vietnam Veteran makes any privilege we have as Americans extremely special because many of us realize the ultimate sacrifice paid to maintain such freedoms. Hunting is a fun filled time for our family in the forest and it’s especially exciting when I can sit in deer stand with one of the grandchildren and share the experience of a hunt. Any way you look at it, the forest, and especially the Federal Forest should be maintained for multiple use.
Denny Olson serves on the board of the Michigan Association of Timbermen (MAT) and is the President of the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association (GLTPA) of Wisconsin and Michigan. Denny is also the Breitung, Michigan Township Supervisor and has been serving on the board of the Michigan Townships Association for the past six years. He is also one of the founding board members of the Michigan Forest Resource Alliance. Denny’s operation, Denny Olson Trucking, is located in Quinnesec, MI. For more information contact Denny at 906-563-8181.