By YUEHAN LIU
Capital News Service
LANSING– Michigan has signed an agreement with the U.S Forest Service to boost collaborative management of Michigan’s forest lands. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said the Good Neighbor Authority master agreement is “a broad pact allowing the state to supplement the work being done by the Forest Service staff on the national forests.”
The agreement would involve the three national forests in Michigan: Hiawatha, Ottawa and Huron-Manistee. “This agreement would help both the Forest Service and the state,” said Jane Cliff, a public affairs specialist at the Forest Service. Cliff said that the agreement would help the Forest Service because natural emergencies have used more of its budget lately, leaving less money for forest protection. Cliff said there are a lot of emergency situations, especially as winter approaches.
By ERIC FREEDMAN
Capital News Service
LANSING – Rejecting objections by two environmental groups, a judge has cleared the way for the U.S. Forest Service to swap 240 scattered acres of federal land in parcels for a 421- acre piece of privately owned land in the Upper Peninsula bordering Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. U.S. District Judge Robert Bell ruled that the Forest Service had followed proper procedures in approving a controversial land exchange in Ottawa National Forest. It is the only Ottawa National Forest land swap to be challenged in court, said Ian Shackleford, the forest’s acting public affairs officer. Shackleford said the 421-acre area will be part of a management area that emphasizes “semi-primitive non-motorized recreation. Visitors can enjoy remoteness and solitude while visiting the area for hunting, camping, hiking or other activities.”
Ottawa National Forest covers about 1 million acres in the western U.P.
Two conservation organizations – Partners in Forestry Cooperative and Northwood Alliance – and seven individuals who use that part of the Ottawa sued to block the deal, arguing that the deal “will trade away old-growth, hemlock, cedar stands and related wildlife habitat and will remove from public ownership unique and rare geographic features, including Wildcat Falls, Scott and Howe Creek, bluffs and ledges and other special parts of the public lands.”
The land the Forest Service would get from owners Robert and Lisa Delich “offers little incentive to use, as the timber was recently cut very heavily and offers little in aesthetic value or other features to attract the public,” and “improper forestry practices had occurred,” the challengers’ lawsuit contends.