Michigan DNR makes available for public review through Jan. 2 its draft Regional State Forest Management Plans for almost 4 million acres of state forests

LANSING, Michigan , October 22, 2012 (press release) – The Department of Natural Resources today announced that its draft Regional State Forest Management Plans (RSFMPs) - designed to help the DNR sustainably manage Michigan's nearly 4 million acres of state forest lands - are now available for public review. The plans are posted on the DNR website, www.michigan.gov/regionalforestplans, through Jan. 2, 2013.

The DNR developed the three draft plans - which cover the eastern Upper Peninsula, the western Upper Peninsula and the northern Lower Peninsula - using an inclusive planning effort and input from a diverse group of stakeholders representing government organizations, outdoor recreation, the forest industry, conservation agencies and everyday citizens. Once finalized, the plans will provide long-term, landscape-level direction for resource managers that will guide DNR decisions about activities and treatments on state forest lands. The plans also ensure wildlife habitat and opportunities for recreation are protected.

Bill O'Neill, chief of the DNR's Forest Resources Division, said the feedback the department receives during the public review period is crucial to the success of the plans.

"Successful management of Michigan's state forest lands is a team effort," said O'Neill, who also serves as state forester. "This public review period is designed to give people plenty of time and opportunity to determine how the plans will best fit their needs. By working together, we can ensure that Michigan's state forests continue to meet the recreation, economic and conservation needs of current and future generations."

Gary Melow, director of Michigan Biomass, said the draft plans are an important cornerstone for optimizing state forest lands so they can support multiple uses.

"These plans are a crucial piece of the puzzle in developing long-term strategies for the state's forest resources. It's critical that stakeholders be active partners in this process," said Melow, who also serves as a member of the DNR's Timber Advisory Council and the Forest Management Advisory Committee. "Michigan's forests and forest products industry are a huge part of our state's economy. They, and other uses of the resource, have been considered in these drafts, and it's important that stakeholders look at these plans to see how they may affect them."

Rich Bowman, director of Government Relations for The Nature Conservancy in Michigan, said the drafts give stakeholders and the public an opportunity to participate in state forest planning and management in Michigan.

"The Nature Conservancy is pleased that after a number of years of thoughtful work, the DNR has released the draft Regional State Forest Management Plans," said Bowman, who also is a member of the DNR's Timber Advisory Council. "These plans will help all of those interested in the health and productivity of our state forest system better understand what we have and what we plan to do to improve, protect and utilize this world-class resource."

To help navigate the RFSMP process and answer questions about the draft plans, the DNR will offer an informational webinar on Thursday, Oct. 25, and repeat it on Tuesday, Oct. 30, at noon (EST). To join either webinar, participants are invited to visit https://connect.msu.edu/rsfmp/ on their preferred date.

Residents with comments or ideas regarding the plans are encouraged to submit them via email to forestplancomments@michigan.gov or by mail to DNR Forest Resources Division, Forest Planning and Operations Section, P.O. Box 30452, Lansing, MI 48909-7952.

Following public review, the DNR will assess the feedback, revise each plan, consult with stakeholders and prepare for final review and approval by the DNR director at a Natural Resources Commission meeting.

Those with questions are encouraged to contact the Forest Resources Division's forest certification planner at 517-373-1275 or via email at forestplancomments@michigan.gov.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state's natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.

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