Forest Service to study Huron-Manistee road system

CADILLAC — The U.S. Forest Service plans to study the risks and benefits for visitors and the environment associated with the road system on the Huron-Manistee National Forests.

The analysis, a part of the implementation of the 2005 Travel Management Rule, 36 CFR 212, will identify a road system that provides access for the public and forest management activities, minimizes environmental impacts, and can be maintained within budget constraints.

“The information we gather will help us identify a road system that serves the needs of the public and the Forest Service at a cost we can afford to maintain over time,” explained Forest Supervisor Leslie Auriemmo.

Public use and road maintenance needs continue to grow on the Huron-Manistee. At the same time resources for road maintenance are decreasing.

Roads that are not adequately maintained can be unsafe to visitors and threaten forest health. They can increase soil erosion into rivers and streams, degrading water quality and impacting fish and wildlife.

This analysis will not result in any final decisions regarding the future of roads within the Forests; the information gathered will be used in future site-specific analysis as required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

The Huron-Manistee National Forests include more than 3,000 miles of roads managed by the Forest Service. Additional roads within the National Forests are maintained by the State of Michigan and the counties. To assess the impacts of each Forest Service road the Forest Service, with input from the public, will consider conditions such as access, invasive species, heritage, wildlife, watershed, soils, fire, recreation and vegetation management. This process will integrate that information to identify positive, neutral or negative factors related to each road.

The Forest will involve the public, local, state, other federal agencies, tribal governments and other stakeholders in this information gathering effort. Public comments will be used to identify priorities and opportunities for potential changes to the road system.

The Huron-Manistee National Forests will host four open houses to explain the analysis process. An open houses will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. on Dec. 1 at the Manistee Ranger District Office, located at 412 Red Apple Road in Manistee.

Open house forums will be scheduled for Baldwin, Mio and Oscoda in January.

For more information about the Huron-Manistee National Forests, visit www.fs.usda.gov/hmnf.

Members of the public may also contact Kenneth Arbogast at karbogast@fs.fed.us or (231) 775-5023, Ext. 8726.

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