STEPHENSON - The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will host an open house on Aug. 21 in Stephenson to provide information and receive public comment on proposed forest management treatments for 2016 in the Escanaba management unit, which includes Delta and Menominee counties.
The open house is set for Thursday, Aug. 21, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the DNR Field Office at West 5420 River Road in Stephenson.
"Open houses are a good way for interested residents, neighbors, and stakeholders to learn about the DNR's proposed treatment plans and to share input with foresters and biologists before any final decisions are made," said Bill O'Neill, chief of the DNR's Forest Resources Division.
Each year, DNR personnel evaluate one-tenth of the state forest. The inventory provides key decision-making information for foresters and wildlife, fisheries and other resource managers.
The age, health, and quantity of trees and other vegetation are assessed to enable DNR staff to make informed decisions.
Timber management, wildlife and fisheries habitat, minerals, archeological sites, recreational use, wildfire potential, and social concerns are just some of the topics taken into consideration during this review.
Because the forest is inventoried approximately two years in advance, a "year of entry" is assigned to indicated when treatments will be prepared. Information currently under review has a 2016 year of entry. This means that treatment activities on lands being reviewed this year will actually begin in 2016.
Proposed treatments, which may include timber harvesting, replanting, and other management activities, are designed to ensure the sustainability of all forest resources.
"This year, we're inviting folks who might not be able to get to a meeting to share their comments via e-mail with unit managers," O'Neill said. "When it comes to the health and sustainability of our state forests, we want the planning process to be as inclusive as possible."
To more easily and efficiently oversee the forest resources, the DNR divides each management unit into smaller units, or "compartments."
This year, the compartments under review are in Bark River, Cornell, Maple Ridge, and Bramptom townships in Delta County; and Holmes, Gourley, Cedarville, Ingallston, and Harris townships in Menominee County.
Maps and information regarding proposed treatments will be available at the open house. The information can also be found at www.michigan.gov/forestry. Compartment review packets for the 2016 year of entry can be found by selecting the shown map and clicking on the "Escanaba" button. Records of decisions, recorded timber harvests and other treatments for past years are available on this page.
On Wednesday, Sept. 3, the DNR will complete its formal compartment review to decide on final treatment plans for these areas. That review will take place at 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 3 in the Escanaba State Office building, second floor conference room, at 305 Ludington St. in Escanaba.
Persons with disabilities who need accommodations for either meeting should contact Eric Thompson, (906) 786-2354, ext. 142, a minimum of five business days before each meeting.
Anyone unable to attend either meeting may submit comments via e-mail to Eric Thompson at email@example.com, using the subject line "Escanaba state forest open house comment." All comments must be received at least three business days before each meeting.
For more information about the state forest planning process, visit www.michigan.gov/forestplan.