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Tag Archive | "public land"

Public lands are Earth Day’s unsung heroes


Tahquamenon River fall forest: An aerial view of the Tahquamenon River and the surrounding fall forest, a popular tourist destination in the eastern end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Tahquamenon River fall forest: An aerial view of the Tahquamenon River and the surrounding fall forest, a popular tourist destination in the eastern end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Pollution prevention, water filtration among the natural benefits

Want to celebrate an Earth Day hero? Look no further than the nearest parcel of state-managed public land in any corner of Michigan.

Last weekend we celebrated Earth Day, and it’s a good time to appreciate our state-managed public lands for all they do to enhance quality of life in Michigan. The Department of Natural Resources manages 4.6 million acres of land for the public’s use and enjoyment, including state forests, game areas, recreation areas and parks. Aside from the high-value cultural, recreational and economic opportunities they provide, Michigan’s public lands have enormous impact on the quality of our environment and natural resources.

The lands reduce air pollution, protect water quality, provide flood retention and offer critical wildlife habitat. Like true heroes, they do their jobs without fanfare.

“People usually associate public lands with outdoor adventures such as camping, hiking or hunting,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “But they may not realize the tremendous natural benefits these spaces provide. Their contributions to the health of Michigan’s environment, natural resources and citizens are many. That’s why proper management of these valued public lands is so critical.”

Maple River SGA: Maple River State Game Area, covering more than 9,200 acres in Clinton, Gratiot and Ionia counties, offers residents and visitors access to wildlife viewing, hunting and other outdoor exploration. It provides substantial acreage for pheasant and other wildlife habitat.

Maple River SGA: Maple River State Game Area, covering more than 9,200 acres in Clinton, Gratiot and Ionia counties, offers residents and visitors access to wildlife viewing, hunting and other outdoor exploration. It provides substantial acreage for pheasant and other wildlife habitat.

Ways in which public lands improve our environment, natural resources and even public health include:

Pollution prevention. Forests and wetlands on public lands benefit the environment by serving as natural “purifiers.” For example, trees help reduce air pollution by absorbing pollutants and increasing oxygen levels in the atmosphere. Wetlands play a vital role by filtering pollutants from surface runoff, and breaking down fertilizers, pesticides and other contaminants into less harmful substances.

Improved water quality.

Tree roots hold soil together and soak up moisture, which enhances water quality and prevents erosion. In addition to filtering pollutants, wetlands improve water quality by recharging groundwater supplies when connected to underground aquifers. They also contribute to natural nutrient and water cycles.

Storm water management.

In natural landscapes like forests, the soil absorbs water and pollutants resulting from runoff from hard surfaces such as driveways and parking lots. This is especially important in reducing flooding.

Wildlife habitat.

Fields, forests, waterways and wetlands provide Michigan’s wildlife with the vibrant ecosystems they need to thrive.

Better health.

Nature plays a huge role in the physical and emotional health of Michiganders. The ability of trees and grasslands to filter air pollution reduces negative health effects on people with respiratory ailments. Plus, state-managed public lands—offering trails, boat launches, campgrounds and other outdoor recreation options—provide any number of opportunities for exercise and fitness. Of course, trees, lakes and rivers offer calming effects that are emotionally gratifying as well.

Good stewardship.

Michigan’s public lands promote good environmental stewardship. They allow for initiatives such as Michigan’s Wetland Wonders, which provide exceptional waterfowl hunting opportunities through the world-class management of the state’s seven premier Managed Waterfowl Hunt Areas. The DNR also is pursuing an innovative wetland mitigation program that harnesses public lands to help offset the loss of wetlands.

“We’re a cleaner, healthier Michigan because of our public lands,” Creagh said. “So much of what they do for us happens without notice. But Earth Day provides a good opportunity to appreciate all our state-managed public lands do for the citizens of Michigan.”

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Are you encroaching on public land?


New DNR initiative aims to resolve encroachment cases 

The Department of Natural Resources announced the Encroachment Resolution Initiative (ERI), an effort geared at resolving the hundreds of cases of encroachment or trespass occurring on public land throughout Michigan.

Through this initiative, the DNR will work with property owners who are trespassing by having either a permanent structure or historical encroachment on public land. Property owners with known encroachments on public land will be notified by letter from the DNR that they are eligible to resolve their case without penalty through the ERI. Property owners adjacent to public land who are not sure whether they are encroaching can use tools on the DNR website (www.michigan.gov/dnr-encroachment) to determine if they are, in fact, trespassing on state-managed land.

“I asked our staff to come up with a creative, customer-focused way of resolving some of our most difficult encroachment situations,” said DNR Director Rodney Stokes.

“The Encroachment Resolution Initiative reaches out to residents with a real, workable solution,” said Stokes. “It will help us appropriately document public land ownership and resolve those trespass cases that tie up substantial staff time and resources and make land-management issues more challenging for the state.”

Under the ERI, property owners who are encroaching on public land managed by the DNR can (starting May 1, 2012) apply to have their cases resolved. Applications will be accepted until Dec. 31, 2012. During this “amnesty” period, DNR staff will work with property owners to properly document ownership.

If a property owner can show that his or her encroachment was in place prior to March 1, 1973 (in keeping with a 1988 amendment of the Revised Judicature Act), the property will be transferred to the property owner after a new property survey is completed and new boundaries are established. Structural encroachments that have occurred after March 1, 1973 will be resolved through land sales. The DNR will streamline its land sale process for encroachment cases being resolved through the ERI.

Individuals with non-structural encroachments (such as fences, gardens, sheds or other non-permanent structures) occurring on public land after March 1, 1973, will need to remove the items.

By providing a streamlined and legal process to resolve their trespass without penalty, the Encroachment Resolution Initiative is intended as an incentive program for property owners encroaching on public land. Throughout the duration of the ERI, the DNR will not seek penalties or take escalated enforcement action for any encroachments that are resolved by Dec. 31, 2012.

After the application period closes on Dec. 31, 2012, any existing or new cases of encroachment that were not brought forward will be dealt with through DNR encroachment and enforcement procedures.

“We sincerely hope that anyone currently encroaching on public land will take advantage of this opportunity to resolve trespass situations,” said DNR Director Stokes. “Public land is intended to be just that—land available for the use and enjoyment of the public. Such encroachments reduce everyone’s ability to enjoy the state’s natural resources that should be freely accessible to residents and visitors alike.”

Individuals with questions about the ERI should contact Lori Burford, the DNR’s encroachment specialist, at 989-275-5151, ext. 2100 or via email at burfordl@michigan.gov.

For more information on the ERI, visit www.michigan.gov/dnr-encroachment.

 

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