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E-M:/ Huron Manistee National Forest



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Enviro-Mich message from "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <ajs@sagady.com>
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Date: Mon, 29 Mar 99 10:18:29 -0800
To: <enviro-mich@great-lakes.net>
Subject: Huron-Manistee National Forest Friends meeting
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Folks:

A unique feature of the only National Forest in Michigan's lower peninsula is
the Friends of the Huron-Manistee National Forest meeting held twice a year to
brief any interested members of the public on Forest Service activities, and
to allow concerns to be raised to the Forest Service about their activities
(or inactivity) on issues.  These forums provide a good way to discuss current
controversies, and over time have allowed some particularly hot issues to be
resolved.

The meeting last Wednesday had a few major topic areas, and information on
each of these can be obtained from the Supervisor's office.  Also, notes are
taken by Forest Service staff about discussions, and minutes are made
available.  Here is a quick overview of the major topics:

OLD GROWTH DESIGNATION: Since 1986, as a result of the settlement of appeals
on the Forest Plan for the Huron-Manistee NF, the FS has been committed to
designate 173,000 acres of old growth.  After many years of debate and
arguments, and at least one effort that started and stopped, the HMNF
presented to the FOF the general outline of their proposed old growth
amendment and a schedule for action.  The first official request for public
input will be the scoping letter, which is scheduled to be sent May 14.  If
the schedule is kept, the Draft Env. Assessment, including alternatives, will
be available for comment at the end of October, and decisions could be made
presumably sometime in early 2000.  (A critical note on this: the 173,000
acres was part of the plan currently in place on the HMNF, but the issue will
be reopened in the process of revising the plan, which could begin once
Congress takes off the prohibitions built into the appropriations bill last
year, or when the Forest Service adopts new rules for planning.)

ENDANGERED SPECIES: The status of Forest Service activities on two species
were discussed: the Indiana Bat and the Canada lynx.  A March 23, 1999 Q&A
document on the Indiana Bat was distributed which includes information about
both the needs of the species and steps the HMNF is in with the US Fish and
Wildlife Service as part of their compliance with the Endangered Species Act
(contact the HMNF Supervisor's office for a copy). The HMNF wildlife biologist
discussed the steps they are currently taking regarding roosting habitat in
upland forests around the hibernaculum at Tippy Dam where Indiana Bats have
been found.  

Also, a brief report was offered on the Canada lynx, which has not yet been
listed on the federal endangered species list but will be soon as a result of
a successful lawsuit seeking its listing.  The HMNF is among those that are
among those in the historic range of this cat and so are participating in the
discussions throughout the northern Great Lakes National Forests on recovery
plans.

RECREATIONAL FEES DEMONSTRATION PROJECT: The HMNF has adopted a limited
demonstration project for recreational fees, which has been authorized by
Congress as they cut back on more and more funding for the agency.  The fees
kick in May 15th, and include fees on Kirtland Warbler tours, dispersed
camping on the Au Sable River, and for use of a list of developed parking
areas.  A reservation fee for permits for watercraft on the Pine and Pere
Marquette Rivers are also being charged, with the permits themselves still
free to individuals.  We asked how the Project will be evaluated, and the
forest is evidently now developing a monitoring and evaluation plan for the
fees.  This is a highly controversial area, leading to a raucus discussion at
the Friends meeting.

BUDGET:  In addition to the above, the Supervisor Corbin Newman reviewed the
budget for the current FY, and information was offered to those who wish
detailed information on a line by line basis.  This can be obtained by email
from the Supervisor's office through Jeff Pullen.

For information from the Forest Service about these topics, and to get onto
the mailing list for the Friends of the Forest meetings, call or write to the
Huron-Manistee National Forest, 1755 South Mitchell Street, Cadillac, MI
49601, (616) 775-2421.





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