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E-M:/ Great Lakes Bulletin

Enviro-Mich message from "Arminda Koch" <KOCHA@state.mi.us>

The following was provided to you yesterday afternoon as an attachment to my note.  I am re-sending it, but as part of this note (instead of an attachment):

The Summer/Fall 1998 issue of the Great Lakes Bulletin, published by the Michigan Land Use Institute, included articles regarding proposed releases of State Forest lands.  One article written by Diane Conners, titled "2,800 Acres of Pere Marquette State Forest (PMSF) on the Auction Block", states that the Department of Natural Resources is preparing to auction 2,800 acres of the Pere Marquette State Forest.  The article further suggests that pending releases of State Forest lands indicate an important change in how the State manages public lands, and that the auction of these lands was spurred by a 1996 public land report prepared by a Special Senate Committee.  While the Pere Marquette State Forest Master Plan identifies State lands which should be released to allow for acquisition of private lands within project boundaries,  it is not true that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is scheduling to auction 2,800 acres of State Forest.  

At the July and August 1998 Natural Resources Commission meetings, Director Cool approved the release of 280 acres of State land in Kalkaska County.  This release was public noticed through the Department Calendar, the Natural Resources Commission Agenda and the Kalkaska newspaper.  These notices led to the Land Use Institute's accusations that 2,800 acres are about to go on the auction block.  The articles in the Great Lakes Bulletin were recently picked up by several major newspapers and published.  These news articles have generated a great many telephone calls to DNR offices and left citizens with the impression that a wholesale disposal of State land is imminent.  This is not the case. 

The Resource Management Plan for the Pere Marquette State Forest was drafted in 1991, as a comprehensive plan to integrate resource development, protection, and land management on this forest.

A portion of the plan deals with the identification of lands which should be disposed.  These are lands which may be isolated from other State Forest lands, landlocked or too small to manage effectively.  The plan identified a total of 2,800 acres within the Pere Marquette State Forest that could be considered for release.  The plan was reviewed by the public in draft form during two public workshops held in Cadillac, and was subsequently approved by the Natural Resources Commission at the May 1994 meeting after considerable public input.  

 A wholesale disposal of 2,800 acres has never been the intent of the Pere Marquette State Forest Plan or of the Department of Natural Resources.  The Commission's approval of the Master Plan merely allowed for an orderly release of these various acreage tracts, through sale or exchange, as appropriate, with corresponding acquisitions of replacement land within forest boundaries.  

The 280 acres currently being proposed for sale by advertised bid will generate revenue for the Land Exchange Facilitation Fund, which will be utilized to acquire privately owned inholdings within the Pere Marquette and other State Forests.  The PMSF Plan also identified various private lands which were of priority for acquisition.  As these properties become available, the Department makes every effort to acquire them.  New purchases within the Forest in Kalkaska County alone during the last 3 to 4 years have totaled 794 acres, with another 200 acres pending closings.  Several additional tracts in Kalkaska County are presently in the early stages of appraisal and acquisition, and are probable future purchases as well. Proceeds from the sale of the 280 acres  recently approved for release will be used to further consolidate acquisitions.

Ongoing efforts to acquire private inholdings within the State Forests and consolidate public lands are being conducted in other counties as well.  Scattered, well-planned releases by sale or exchange will always be necessary, and will continue to be an important tool in the future management of the State Forest lands.

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