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Categorized | Outdoors

DNRE suggests alternatives to memorials on public lands

The placement of private memorials on public lands is becoming an increasingly common occurrence in northern Michigan. While it’s understandable that many people may want to honor lost loved ones by commemorating a special place – perhaps with a cross, bench or marker along a favorite walking trail or in a traditional hunting spot – the Department of Natural Resources and Environment reminds the public that such memorials can actually cause unintended harm.

Lynne Boyd, chief of the DNRE’s Forest Management Division (FMD), said that when people place memorials on state forest land, including state-owned land adjacent to county roads, they’re actually taking that portion of land away from truly public use. Additionally, such memorials can pose a safety concern to travelers on the roads and visitors to the public land.

“When people create their own memorial places on public land, these locations can become spots where donated objects continue to accumulate,” said Boyd.. “As friends and relatives gather to visit and leave mementos at the memorial sites, these locations often become distractions for drivers and put others in potential danger.”

Boyd said although she understands people’s motivations in placing such memorials, the Forest Management Division has to respectfully ask that such items currently on public land be removed. If they’re left on public lands, FMD staff will have to remove them.

Instead, Boyd suggested there are a number of ways that people can honor family and friends with longer-lasting tributes – ones that will not only protect Michigan’s public land and the safety of visitors, but will also contribute to the long-term beauty and preservation of Michigan’s natural spaces and great outdoors.

The DNRE’s Forest Management Division encourages people to consider the following programs:

• Adopt-a-Forest

Michigan has an abundance of forest land that is enjoyed by hikers, bird watchers and hunters. Every year, tons of trash is illegally dumped in Michigan’s forests. Adopt-a-Forest seeks to enhance the enjoyment of public forest lands by eliminating illegal dumping and to increase the awareness of recycling opportunities for waste materials found. For more information, contact Ada Takacs, 989-275-5151, ext. 2049, or visit http://www.cleanforests.org.

• Adopt-a-Park

Every year, millions of visitors enjoy camping, hiking, and sightseeing in Michigan state parks. The Adopt-A-Park program gives volunteers an opportunity to support the rich natural heritage of Michigan’s state park system by adopting a favorite park for a two-year period and focusing on stewardship, park beautification and construction projects and special events. For more information, contact the individual park’s supervisor or Pam Ames, 517-467-7401.

• State Forest Donation Program

The DNRE receives many inquiries from the public about how to contribute to forest management programs on the state’s 3.9 million acres of state forest lands. The State Forest Donation Program coordinates those requests and every year helps to identify key areas of need, including reforestation, erosion control, trash removal and maintenance of recreational facilities. For more information, call 517-373-1275.

• Adopt-a-Highway and Adopt-a-Road

Adopt-A-Highway is a Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) program designed to help keep the state’s highway roadsides clean and attractive. Participants adopt both sides of a section of state highway roadside to clean up over a two-year period. A minimum two-mile stretch of roadway is recommended. For more information, contact MDOT at 517-322-3388 or visit www.michigan.gov/adoptahighway. Adopt-a-Road is a county-administered spinoff of the statewide program; for more information, contact local county road commissions.

-Michigan Land Conservancies

Land trusts and conservancies are non-profit agencies that work to protect natural lands for current and future generations. They work closely with landowners, helping to safeguard scenic areas, wetlands, critical wildlife habitats and other significant natural areas. For more information, contact local land conservancies or visit http://landtrust.org/LTC/NatureOrgWebLinks.htm.

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