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SG-W:/ Fw: Friends of Pickerel Lake Update 16 Letter from the DNR

UPDATE 16 Friends of Pickerel Lake


The DNR response to the FPL presentation in Lansing on June 4
which arrived on July 9 follows below.  Since the differences
between the positions of FPL and those of the DNR are so large,  we are
now renewing our request to the DNR for a moratorium which would allow for
further research and detailed negotiations.

DNR Letter:

July 9, 2001

Mr. Richard Seagle
410 Sunset Road
Ann Arbor, MI  48103

SUBJECT:        Friends of Pickerel Lake
Draft Proposal for Pickerel Lake Natural Area

Dear Mr. Seagle:

Thank you again, for meeting with Parks and Recreation Bureau (PRB)
recently, and providing us with the Friends of Pickerel Lake (FOPL)
concerns and proposal for the improvements to the boating access site.

The following is PRB's analysis of FOPL's proposal, submitted on June 4,
2001.  My staff's review only dealt with the viability of FOPL's proposal,
and did not consider them in conjunction or conflict with what we have
considered for this site.  In fact, many of your suggestions have prompted
us to revisit our plans.  We will be working to reach a mutually acceptable
plan for the improvements at this site over the course of this summer.

Natural Area Designation: One alternative presented by the FOPL proposes
that the Pickerel Lake area, encompassing the lake, surrounding wetlands,
and the oak barrens and dry sand prairie northwest of Pickerel Lake, has
unique aesthetic, recreational, ecological features worthy of preservation
via a Natural Area designation.  A formal procedure for submitting
applications worthy of consideration as Natural Areas has been drafted by
the Natural Heritage Unit of Wildlife Division.  That proposed procedure is
now being reviewed at the Department level.  The Department will not accept
Natural Area nominations until a formal procedure is in place.  According
to the mandates defined in the Wilderness and Natural Area Act, all
mechanical devices (automobiles, boats, and bicycles) would be prohibited
from the area.  If so designated, PRB believes that the Natural Area
boundary would encompass the area that now contains the existing boat
launch, parking lot, bicycle trail and access road from Hankerd Road.  If
our assumption were correct, then contrary to the FOPL proposal, a
two-tiered designation allowing motorized access and composting toilets
near the lakeshore would not be an option.

FOPL Proposed Site Improvements: In assessing the proposed plan as an
alternative to what currently exists, and assuming that a Natural Area
designation is not pursued, PRB can support many of the suggestions made by
FOPL.  We support FOPL's concept for Rules of Conduct that encourage
respectful behavior and consideration between users accessing public lands
for recreational activities.  Many of the conflicts between existing users
of this site can be attributed to a lack of respect and consideration
towards each other.  We are also receptive to volunteer efforts that
promote and support our stewardship efforts in this area and in other state
parks.   Lastly, FOPL's description defining the physical improvements for
the access road and the parking area are in line with PRB objectives for
the area.  Current use of the upland area is poorly defined and
unrestricted.  With minor improvements, traffic patterns and parking areas
can be better defined to eliminate the degradation of the surrounding
natural area.

FOPL's remaining suggestions for the site, which includes restricting
boating access to carry-down type only, installing a boardwalk to the
fishing pier from the parking lot, and providing composting toilets, are
not supported by PRB.  Since this site is maintained using funds gained
from marine fuel revenues (a restricted funding source designated for
boating access), a reduction of boating access will not be considered.   In
addition, a change of the "primary function" of the site would not be
compliant with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act,
which mandates that: 1) we provide access to all of our programs and, 2)
all improvements comply with barrier free design guidelines.  While the
FOPL proposal for a boardwalk provides pedestrians barrier free access from
the parking lot to the fishing pier, it does not provide access for those
launching boats, the primary function of this site.

Summary:  The apparent concern of the FOPL identified during their
presentation to Parks and Recreation Bureau staff on June 4, 2001, and
reiterated in their report under the topic of Current Issues and Problems,
seems to focus on an increase of motor boat use at Pickerel Lake.  Couched
in concern over the environment and/or safety issues between boaters and
swimmers, FOPL contend that any improvement to the ramp would escalate use
by larger, faster, more powerful boats and jet skis.  PRB strongly
disagrees with this assumption, and our experience with over seven hundred
boat launches statewide does not support it.  "High speed thrill seekers"
would not be more attracted to this site anymore then they currently are,
even if we were to improve the launch.  This lake is much too small to
attract this type of use for any extended period of time.

PRB recognizes the strong interest of FOPL to retain and preserve this
unique natural resource, and investigated options for implementing either a
"quiet zone" for the area or a "no motor zone" for the lake.  After
investigating all proposals, we did not find these two feasible but the
option of designating Pickerel Lake as a "no wake" lake could be pursued by
the local unit of government under the guidelines of the Marine Safety Act.
A "no wake" designation may largely address the FOPL concerns, without
diminishing the accessibility of the lake to boaters.  Further inquiry into
this option can be directed to Lieutenant Lyle Belknap, Marine Safety Unit,
DNR Law Enforcement Division.

In concert with the good stewardship suggestions of FOPL, PRB intends on
proceeding with the minor improvements planned for the boat launch and
related functions of this site.  Regardless of permitting requirements, PRB
will hold a public meeting to present these improvements.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call the District Planner,
Brenda Curtis, at 517-373-6260.


                                                Rodney A. Stokes, Chief

                                                Parks and Recreation Bureau

Cc:     G. Rob
        V. Anthes
        W. Boik
        R. Fahlsing
        S. Lothrop
        B. Curtis
        J. LaBossiere
        L. Belknap
        K. Herman