By NIKKI YOUNK
BREITUNG TOWNSHIP - Members of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC) and other Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials were in town Thursday to hold their monthly meeting.
Theresa Proudfit/Daily News Photo
Keith Creagh, director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, addresses members of the Natural Resources Commission at Pine Mountain Resort on Thursday. The Natural Resources Commission held its regular monthly meeting in Iron Mountain.
Commission meetings are held on the second Thursday of the month at different sites throughout the state. The meeting at Pine Mountain Resort on Thursday was the only meeting scheduled in the Upper Peninsula this year.
Director Keith Creagh's report included updates on forest and land management, off-road vehicle trails, and the upcoming wolf hunt.
The hunt starts Nov. 15 and includes portions of Gogebic, Ontonagon, Houghton, Baraga, Luce, and Mackinac counties. There is a limited harvest of 43 wolves.
DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason informed the board that all 1,200 licenses for the hunt sold out within one week of their initial sale on Sept. 28, with 900 going in the first 20 minutes.
Mason advised interested hunters that they should keep checking back with the DNR to see if any "abandoned or voided" licenses become available.
Also on the wolf hunt issue, the commission awarded two Wildlife Conservationist of the Year awards to DNR biologists Dr. Dean Beyer Jr. and Brian Roell.
Mason noted that both men, along with fellow biologist Adam Bump, were instrumental in creating Michigan's first wolf season.
"They put the best interest of the resources above all else," he added. "It consumes their professional lives and personal lives, the sportsmen community should be very proud to have these individuals in these roles."
During the public comment period, Jacqueline Winkowski of Gwinn offered a different opinion. She told the commission that there are hundreds of Upper Peninsula residents against the hunt, worried that there are not enough regulations in place.
"I believe this is politically, not scientifically, motivated," she said.
Several local residents made public comments on other topics.
Barb Kramer, Bob Werner, and Carla Kramer focused on non-motorized trails.
Barb Kramer said that her proposal for a southern Upper Peninsula route for Governor Rick Snyder's trail from Belle Isle to Ironwood has gained support from dozens of municipalities.
She pointed out that constructing a southern route before a northern route would be preferable because a southern route would utilize more state-owned land, require fewer miles of new trail development, and provide more access points into Wisconsin.
However, she added that both could be built in order to promote Michigan as a "trail state" and to attract events like bicycle tours.
Members of the commission did not offer any feedback, but Creagh did congratulate her on the amount of support she has been able to gain so far.
Werner and Carla Kramer talked to the commission about the progress made by the Dickinson County Bike Path Committee.
According to Werner, the committee has established 40 miles of signed routes along roads throughout the county. The goal now is to promote safety by installing more "share the road" signs.
Carla Kramer said that some of the routes include Bass Lake Road, Traders Mine Road, Rock Dam Road, Lake Antoine Road, the Fumee Lake Trails, Iron Mountain City Park into Kingsford, and Breitung Cutoff Road into Norway.
She added that, for the future, the committee is looking for a safer route from Iron Mountain to Lake Antoine as well as routes near Millie Hill, Little Badwater, Dickinson County Memorial Hospital, and the Menominee River.
Other local speakers were Tony Demboski on the issue of deer baiting, Bill Ziegler on the issue of inland lake management, and Dave Johnson on the issue of pike slot limits.
Nikki Younk's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.