Deadline set for Monday, March 8 to ensure Improved Aspen Management on the Manistee National Forest
The Huron-Manistee National Forests (HMNF) have seen a decline in aspen harvest over the past few decades. This has led to an imbalance in the age structure of aspen stands that negatively affects habitat critical for ruffed grouse, American woodcock, and other forest wildlife.
The HMNF Zone Aspen Project has developed recommendations after assessing aspen forest types on the entire 540,322 acres of the Manistee National Forest that could produce substantial habitat improvements. The Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society (RGS & AWS) encourage our members and supporters to comment now in support of Zone Aspen Project Alternative 2, described in the Environmental Assessment currently up for comment.
Alternative 2 proposes up to 29,500 acres of aspen management to occur in the Baldwin-White Cloud and Cadillac-Manistee Ranger Districts over the next 15 years (with up to 4,000 acres treated in some individual years) to create age class diversity and promote young forest habitat on the Manistee.
A prior RGS & AWS notice on January 22, 2020, directed members to the opportunity to comment on the Zone Aspen Project Scoping Document. Thanks to your responses, the majority of input HMNF received supported the proposed activities of Alternative 2, and recognized the need to manage the aspen resource to increase age class diversity, produce timber, and improve wildlife habitat at an accelerated rate – in alignment with HMNF Forest Plan goals that the Forest Service has consistently failed to meet.
Your efforts helped ensure Alternative 2 is the preferred alternative the Forest Service currently wants to implement. A final determination of the selected alternative will be made after all public input on the Environmental Assessment for the Zone Aspen Project is received and considered. Based on this input, the Forest Service could select a different or modified alternative.
Aspen is a shade-intolerant, early-successional species that would be replaced by more shade-tolerant forest types in the absence of adequate forest treatments. Alternative 1 would maintain the current level of activity for the area, and the Forest Service acknowledges this would accelerate loss of aspen forest types. This loss would negatively affect ruffed grouse, American woodcock, and other wildlife associated with early-successional habitat types including, but not limited to:
Blanding’s turtle, cottontail rabbit, eastern box turtle, eastern hognose snake, eastern massasauga rattlesnake, grasshopper sparrow, golden-winged warbler, monarch butterfly, olive-sided flycatcher, prairie warbler, red-headed woodpecker, spotted turtle, whip-poor-will, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and wood turtle.
Please take the time now to email your comments in support of Alternative 2 to: email@example.com
Comments must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday, March 8, 2021. Comments related to this project should include the following information:
- Put “Zone Aspen Project” in the subject line.
- Provide your name, address, and (if possible) telephone number.
- Reference the title of the project you are submitting comments on (“Zone Aspen Project”).
- Include specific facts or comments, along with supporting reasons that you believe should be considered in reaching a decision. We suggest you adapt the following text and add information about your use of the National Forest to provide your own specific comments:
As a member of the Ruffed Grouse Society/American Woodcock Society, I strongly support implementation of Zone Aspen Project Alternative 2. I encourage your recognition of the need to manage the aspen resource to increase age class diversity, produce timber, and improve wildlife habitat at an accelerated rate – in alignment with goals of the Huron-Manistee National Forests Plan that the Forest Service thus far has failed to meet. If Alternative 1 and the current pace of management is not increased, loss of aspen will accelerate, the Huron-Manistee National Forests ruffed grouse habitat and population objectives will not be met, and other wildlife associated with early-successional habitat types will be affected, including, but not limited to: American woodcock, Blanding’s turtle, cottontail rabbit, eastern box turtle, eastern hognose snake, eastern massasauga rattlesnake, grasshopper sparrow, golden-winged warbler, monarch butterfly, olive-sided flycatcher, prairie warbler, red-headed woodpecker, spotted turtle, whip-poor-will, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and wood turtle. Please implement your preferred alternative, and finalize selection of Alternative 2.
If you have any questions or need further information on this proposal, please contact Mark Herberger, at the Cadillac-Manistee Ranger Station, 1170 Nursery Road, Wellston, Michigan, 49660, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
RGS & AWS will submit specific written comments on behalf of the organization. We will support Alternative 2 and retain the opportunity to file an objection to any different alternative or modified alternative selected by the Forest Service that does not support an increased pace of management in line with the Forest Plan and wildlife habitat needs. A potential objection period would begin after input from the current comment period has been compiled and considered.