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E-M:/ Whitefish Point Management Plan - URGENT, comment by 12/2/02!!

Enviro-Mich message from "David Stimac Photography" <davelist@davidstimac.com>

I received the following just now from Joe Kaplan.  The following contains a
synopsis of the plan, as well as who to contact to voice your concerns.  The
deadline for public comment is Dec 2, 02.
- Dave & Erika Stimac

Dear Friends,

After a year of deliberation the "new" Whitefish Point Management Plan has
been released for public comment.  Unfortunately, the Plan is long on
description but short on measures to protect the Point from inappropriate
development and commercialization.  It appears that Michigan Audubon gave
up with negotiations and we are left with a document that promises even
more development than was proposed in past (and grossly inadequate)
management plans.  The inside story is that the Shipwreck museum had
attorneys manipulate the planning process at every opportunity and as a
results Whitefish Point will spoiled with additional buildings, service
drives, and parking lots.

All is not lost.  The Federal legislation that authorized the transfer of
the Whitefish Point property contained a provision that prohibited new
development or expansion of existing infrastructure at Whitefish Point
without a reasonable opportunity for public comment on the development or
expansion, and full consideration of the comment provided.  Unfortunately,
for reasons not fully explained the public comment period is only for 12
days (November 20 - December 2)  with a meeting public meeting scheduled
for December 3rd.  This will probably be our last opportunity to protect
Whitefish Point from the commercialization promoted by the Great Lakes
Shipwreck Museum so please consider acting on Louie Dombroski's message
provided below and plan to attend the meeting.  Do not hesitate to contact
me if you have any questions (jdkaplan@mtu.edu or by phone 906.487.3059
(office) / 906.487.9060 (home).


Joe Kaplan
Friends of Whitefish Point

From: LOUIE DOMBROSKI of Paradise, MI
To: birders everywhere
Re: Public comment urgently needed for Whitefish Point Management Plan!

Deadline: e-mail comments must be received by DECEMBER 2.

The Human use/Natural Resource Management Plan for Whitefish Point has been
released for public review. The plan has many, many problems. It is obvious
that Michigan Audubon Society was worn out, outspent, and generally bullied
into agreeing to some very unfortunate provisions by the Great Lakes
Shipwreck Historical Society [GLSHS].

The best way to help MAS and the public salvage something good from the
plan is to send e-mails SOON to Jim Lively at the Michigan Land Use
The management plan can be viewed at:

Since the plan is 60 pages long and time is short, I've indicated below the
page numbers of some of the most egregious problems.  It is important that
you express their concerns via e-mail by December 2. E-mail your comments
to Jim Lively at the Michigan Land Use Institute, jim@mlui.org and copy
your letter to Tracy Casselman of the USFWS, tracy_casselman@fws.gov

Here are some of the major problems that need addressing: The timing of the
release of the plan: less than two weeks to review a 60-page document
crafted by lawyers, and over a holiday weekend yet! The law calls for full
consideration of new development proposals, yet the time scale of the
process assures that every concerned citizen will NOT have an opportunity
to be heard.

Page 32: Mitigation and Habitat Restoration:
In a nutshell, the plan calls for about half of the current paved parking
lot to be removed, revegetated (part with a lawn, part with native
vegetation). This parking lot removal was a condition of allowing the GLSHS
to build their precious museum wings. Replacement parking spaces will be
created along the east side of the road (perpendicular to the road), all
the way from right next to the Owl's Roost gift shop to across from the far
edge of the gravel parking lot. The gravel parking lot will be paved and
expanded to include the triangle of habitat that is 7 years into its
restoration after having been cleared illegally by the GLSHS in 1994. A
service drive will extend to the west of the museum.Oh, yes, another
condition of mitigation from the State Historic Preservation Office is that
ANOTHER BUILDING will be placed on the site, about in the center of the
current paved parking lot.[Page 52] The reason?  A second crew's quarters
building once occupied this site, and it must be restored [actually
according to the SHPO this area only has to be free from asphalt -- the
idea to rebuild the building is from MAS and GLSHS - Joe Kaplan 11/26/02],
so visitors will get a feel for what Whitefish Point was like historically.
I guess we're supposed to pretend that the two largest buildings on the
site, the GLSHS gift shop/multi-purpose building and the expanded museum
just aren't there.

The GLSHS is required to mitigate damage to habitat caused by new
construction on their property in a 2:1 ratio. This SOUNDS good, but there
are big problems.
Much of the area chosen for mitigation is sandy habitat behind the GLSHS
buildings that would not likely support the same plant communities as the
habitat to be lost. Habitat to be lost includes the "triangle" at the north
edge of the gravel parking lot. Now, seven years into its restoration, it
has several jack pines over 6 feet tall. This is important bird habitat (I
certainly remember a Grasshopper Sparrow that thought so). This habitat
also provides an important VISUAL BUFFER to the museum.

Page 46:
Parking expansion Along the Road right of way. An area extending up to 13
feet from the edge of the pavement into the right-of-way on the southeast
side of the road, across from the gravel parking lot [and extending almost
to the Owl's Roost gift shop] will be utilized to accommodate perpendicular
parking. Astonishingly, there is NO PLAN to mitigate this habitat loss
because, to quote from the plan (and I'm not making this up), "this area
generally does not contain habitat". This Orwellian statement is followed
by "No filling of wetlands in construction of this parking expansion shall
be allowed." Since it doesn't even qualify as habitat (generally), it
certainly couldn't contain any wetland. (What ARE those alders doing in
there?)Much of the habitat mitigation details are vague. Six times on page
32, it is stated that habitat is to be restored "to the satisfaction of the
USFWS". After all these months, shouldn't they have been able to specify
exactly how they will be satisfied?

Page 31: Habitat Loss Areas. To quote the plan:
"1) Staff parking area--some mature jack pines and shrubby growth will be
lost to allow a paved access drive. The drive will generally be located
under the power line easement as much as possible to minimize habitat
loss." [this is actually GREAT habitat for migrating birds, and harbored
the last known Douglas hawthorn on the site, until was bulldozed by the

Page 28 & 29:
Septic Capacity Monitoring Plan.
Three capped and locked monitoring wells will be placed on the site. The
GLSHS "will retain within its control the sole key for the locked well
caps." Twice a year water samples will be taken "for the sole purpose of
determining that the septic system is not contaminating groundwater. . . .
No other tests will be permitted of the water samples." WHAT IS THE GLSHS
TRYING TO HIDE? Mercury? Lead? What else? With their history (including a
mercury spill that required EPA intervention and the burning of painted
wood likely to contain lead) why should the GLSHS be entrusted with the
only key to monitoring wells? Why not let the USFWS control the monitoring
on behalf of the public? This provision in the plan sounds like it's
designed to protect the GLSHS, not the public.

Another thing: the plan assumes that this new development is to be funded
with public grant money.

I think that is enough information to get you started. I could go on and
on. Read the plan for yourself if you like and SEND AN E-MAIL MESSAGE OR
SOON. E-mail messages will be sorted by topic. The best way to impact the
plan is to send a short (from a short paragraph up to a page) message to
Jim Lively
about each topic of concern to you.As requested above, PLEASE PASS THIS

Thank you.

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