Recently, MI BHA sent a letter to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) Board and the DNR’s Wildlife Division supporting Wildlife Division’s application for 4.8 million dollars to fund the acquisition of 4 parcels of land in southern Michigan. In another communication, MI BHA received an email from a member expressing concern about the DNR’s auction of public land parcels, especially a parcel with public access that he recently hunted. These communications are both linked to the DNR’s ongoing process of land ownership review.
DNR’s land ownership review process can add or subtract land from what many BHA members may view as a fixed DNR ownership footprint. The process is a powerful tool for the DNR to evaluate land management costs and benefits. DNR’s land strategy document “The Power of Public Lands” has a more complete description of DNR land management goals and their land review process.
Although the land review process is unlikely to significantly change the total acres of DNR administered public land (currently around 4.6 million acres). At the local level (Game Area, Park, or Forest Management Unit) the process may have a more significant impact by adding parcels contiguous to existing blocks of State land, especially private-land inholdings. This is the case with the 4 parcels (contained within 3 State Game Areas) that the DNR is interested in buying. The review process may also result in the sale of parcels that are viewed as difficult or expensive to administer, often smaller parcels disconnected from larger blocks of DNR lands. This is likely the case with the parcel of concern in the letter from the BHA member.
The land review process is important for the long-term sustainable management of DNR’s public land estate. Continual engagement with the DNR on their land strategy and review process is a top priority for MI BHA. This doesn’t mean that MI BHA agrees with every decision to sell a parcel of DNR land. Decisions to sell DNR land can suffer from too little information on public use. This is where BHA members can engage locally with DNR Staff, especially if you are using small parcels of DNR land that are disconnected from larger blocks. If you get the opportunity, stop in the local DNR office and talk to the biologist, forester, or park manager and let them know you are using the land and value that parcel of Michigan’s public land estate.