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Public land review at virtual meetings March 1 and 2

REGION- If you spend time hunting, fishing, hiking or camping on public lands, the DNR wants your attention.

The DNR has completed review of Cheboygan, Crawford, Eaton, Ingham, Jackson, Kalkaska, Missaukee, Muskegon, Otsego, Osceola, and Ottawa counties as part of the department’s state land review process. They are determining which parcels best meet its goal of delivering broad public access to quality outdoor recreation opportunities, while also protecting natural and cultural resources on those lands.

The public is invited to participate in virtual meetings March 1 and 2 to share their input on the outcomes of that review.
“We set out to carefully evaluate the more than 30,000 acres set for review in these 11 counties, and then either retain them because they’re a good fit with the DNR’s mission.  We can protect them through agreements with conservation partners, trade them to consolidate state ownership, or make them available for sale to the public through auction,” said Scott Whitcomb, the DNR’s acting natural resources deputy.

It’s a long-term, detailed process that Whitcomb said helps ensure the DNR is focused on the lands that hold the greatest conservation, recreation and resource management potential for Michigan residents.

“We are now at a point in the review of the seventh group of counties where the next important step is to hear from the public – the people who know these local areas and use them in a variety of ways – about their ideas on our initial recommendations,” Whitcomb said. “We got a great response from earlier public reviews and, using local knowledge of the areas, made several corrections to our maps and ownership records, underscoring how important it is to have this input.”

The classification label for each parcel may be based, in part, on the natural or cultural resources present on the land; how the land is used, accessed or managed; and whether the land contributes to the department’s mission. The DNR’s initial recommended classifications for the public land in these 11 counties break down as follows:

  • Retain (82%).
  • Offer to alternate conservation partner (3.1%).
  • Exchange/trade (3.5%).
  • Dispose through public auction (11.4%).

Virtual public meetings March 1, 2

The DNR is hosting two virtual public meetings Wednesday, March 1, and Thursday, March 2, to give people the opportunity to learn more about the state land review process and the 11 counties currently under review.

You don’t have to have Microsoft Teams on your computer or smart device to join, but please note that each link is specific to its meeting date and time, and the links will not be live or accessible until each meeting is “opened” by the moderator. Anyone without access to a computer may call in using the phone number provided.

  • 6 p.m. (Eastern) Wednesday, March 1
    Join Microsoft Teams meeting
    Or call (for audio only) +1 248-509-0316, 851332086#,
    Conference ID: 851 332 086#
  • 2 p.m. (Eastern) Thursday, March 2
    Join Microsoft Teams meeting
    Or call (for audio only) +1 248-509-0316, 815328192#
    Conference ID: 815 328 192#

People unable to participate can view a recording of the public meeting presentation, available on the DNR’s state land review webpage, along with additional updates that will be posted throughout the process.

For additional resources on public lands, visit Michigan.gov/PublicLands. For special accommodations requests, contact Kerry Heckman at 517-643-1256.

More opportunities for public feedback

Aside from public meetings and through the interactive map, feedback on these initial recommendations for this seventh group of counties can be submitted via email through March 3 at DNR-StateLandReview@Michigan.gov.

All comments received will be taken into consideration as DNR staff develops recommendations for the DNR director’s final decision, which will occur at a future public meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission.

DNR land managers recently began the initial review for the eighth group of counties. Those recommendations are expected to be available for public review in June 2023.

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