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E-M:/ THe huron Manistee

Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org

I appreciate Frank Ambrose providing info on what is going on the Huron
Manistee NF, but would strongly urge that anyone who is actually interested in
the forests in this area make a point of doing more than just simply reading
the NEPA quarterly for the HMNF, looking at acres being cut and commenting
from afar.  This is a unique National Forest in the nation, as far as I can
tell.  It has an extraordinarily welcoming process for anyone in the public to
participate in their activities.  A twice yearly Friends of the Forest meeting
is held in the spring and the fall, usually in Cadillac, open to anyone who
wants to attend (The meetings usually involve between 60 and 100 members of
the public, along with FS staff).  They send out over 900 notices of those
meetings, but if you are not on their list, request to be put on so you can
get the notices.  The forest has a web page now with all the information as


The openness does not mean that there is not controversy.  In fact, it is
common at these meetings that major disputes erupt.  Over the last few years,
the timber industry and a handful of hunting groups have been pounding the
agency claiming they are not putting up enough aspen for sale.  I MUCH prefer
that that debate takes place in this public forum than behind closed doors
with the public shut out.  And there is no question we need a lot more
people who use and care about the Huron Manistee showing up at these meetings
so that when the new planning process actually gets going the voices of those
who care about biodiversity, about quiet recreation, and other important uses
of these forests are heard. You can count on the industry and other
consumptive users being there.

If something is not on the NEPA Quarterly that is required to be, then the
Forest Service is prohibited from moving ahead with actions.  This forest has
been particularly diligent in raising issues that they think may be
controversial.  In fact, some staff have raised things that they probably
could have gotten away with, without breaking any rules and in some cases
without the public even knowing about it.  Case in point is the first half of
the salvage sale operation near Luzerne, for which the second half of the
project is currently under review as listed in the NEPA Quarterly.  The
blowdown occurred in July last year, and both the Forest Service and the DNR
experienced extensive blow down areas.  The DNR didn't even take a breath
before letting a sale in the Mason Tract, without any consultation on how to
treat what is a naturally occurring disturbance. All the trees were removed
without a thought to biodiversity considerations.

The Forest Service had 2000 acres of a 3000 acre blow down on their lands.
They asked enviros, timber industry, local officials including the fire chief
at Luzerne, and others to convene to look at the site and discuss possible
ways to proceed.  That discussion assured no short cutting of the NEPA review,
but it also led to the Forest Service moving the "red flag" areas, ie those
areas that posed a very real fire threat to the town of Luzerne (basically a
funnel up a river valley dropping right into the town) first, with a second
project for the less dangerous sites.  It also led to proposals that the FS
leave some islands of blow down throughout the area as reservoirs of natural
disturbance, both for study and to provide habitat etc.  Comments on the
second half of this are needed to reenforce this kind of approach.

There are a lot of things we disagree with about the management of the Huron
Manistee, among them that the old growth plan has been in the works for 12
years without being completed.  And there is no question that there needs to
be more public input into management of this forest.  But I would suggest this
forest needs less of the blunt instrument approach that is necessary in many
other forests, and more of the find out whats going on and SHOW UP approach.
With any luck the new forest plan process may officially be underway sometime
soon, and your comments are essential on that, since that sets the overall
management of this forest for the next 10 to 15 years.

If you would like to know more about these activities, or about how to comment
on Forest Service projects, please contact me and I'll get you the info you

Anne Woiwode
Sierra Club
(517) 484-2372

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