I am writing regarding your salute to the Huron National Forest that appeared in the early October edition of the Call. They have obtained $3.87 million in stimulus dollars to create 800 acres of openings to deter wild fires.

Part of the 1986 plan for the nearly 1,000,000 acre Huron-Manistee National Forest (HMNF) was an Old Growth amendment that would set aside 1173,000 acres of Old Growth. During the planning process for the 2006 updated plan it was learned that Old Growth forests would double by 2035. Because of the severe detrimental effect on many species of wildlife the Michigan Wild Turkey Hunters Association attempted to address the following in meeting after meeting and letter after letter to no avail.

The 1986 plan listed 37,105 acres of Deer Emphasis Areas. These are the traditional , ancient winter yarding areas of deer and winter habitat for many species of non migrating wildlife. The 2006 plan reduces these to 14,003 acres. 23,547 acres of winter habitat will disappear. These did contain some of the most critical habitat on the HMSF and were managed to provide a food source and thermal cover.

In addition 2,000 acres of managed wildlife openings were located within the newly designated Old Growth. These will also disappear, not to be replaced.

According to the Michigan Breeding Bird Survey, fully 30 percent of about 70 songbirds dependent on aspen are declining compared to only 8 percent dependent of long lived trees. Yet aspen has declined more that 35 percent due to the failure to maintain young stands through logging. The 2006 plan estimates that there will be an additional loss of 40,000 more acres of aspen, which is critical for the subsistence of many wildlife species.

Ruffed Grouse is an Indicator Specie. Listed for their habitat and population objectives the Forest will maintain a minimum of 1,760 breeding pairs. 2.5 acres will be maintained per pair. This sums up to two grouse for every 560.19 acres (about one square mile), or one grouse for 280 acres of national forest. In all of this also remember that woodcock that is highly dependent on aspen has seen an annual decline for at least the past 20 years. This sums up the thrust of game management on the Nuron-Manistee. This is token wildlife management at it’s worst and reflects the severe shortcoming of aspen management, despite the fact that they acknowledge that approximately 35 percent of the registered hunters in Michigan hunt on national forests

The 2006 plan calls for the creation of 68,000 acres of barrens. 20,300 acres of oak will be clean cut and lost to create barrens up to 500 acres in size. Oaks are considered the staff of life and there are many areas where they are not regenerating. The current plan prohibits, limber harvest on 80 percent of northern hardwood forests. This is neither justified or acceptable.

In just few short years hunting will be a thing of the past on these one million acres. During the appeal process not one deer or grouse organization appealed the plan. The most comprehensive appeal was from a retired Huron-Manistee forester who wrote a 21 page appeal of the plan. This should have been an eye opener for every so called conservation organization. In the end the Forest Service in Washington lumped all of the appeals into one and denied them all on the grounds that they did not violate any rules or regulations. The only reason that public hearings and comments were held is because they had to. In the end the whole procedure was a farce.

The managers of the HMNF don’t deserve a Salute for creating fire breaks.

While the managers of the Huron-Manistte Nation Forest now pursue principle management of butterflies, thistles, bats, warblers, rattle snakes, etc., etc. those wildlife game species are in decline and will continue an annual decline. If deer hunters hunting this 1,000,000 acres forest think that hunting is very poor now wait for another 10 years or so. This includes Ruffed Grouse, woodcock, rabbits, hares, turkeys and squirrels.

These are forests that our children and grandchildren will inherit but By God there still may be Rattle Snakes to enjoy!

A very special thank you
Pere Marquette Chapter - Spring 2010 Update