In 2010, a man successfully sued the U.S. Forest Service saying the agency did not incorporate enough land for quiet recreation in the Huron-Manistee National Forest.
He said more land for these activities should have been set aside in the USFS' 2006 forest management plan.
Here's how the plaintiff, Kurt Meister, explained it in a story by Michigan Radio back in 2010:
“This case isn’t about hunting. It’s not about gun hunting. It’s not about stopping gun hunting. It’s simply saying it shouldn’t be everywhere. And if you make it everywhere, you’re affecting other people’s rights.”
In that report, Interlochen Public Radio's Bob Allen explained that "what Kurt Meister is asking the court to do is set aside areas designated as non-motorized for quiet recreation.
Those are places where, on paper, the forest plan says a person can expect to be isolated from the sights and sounds of other humans.
But on the ground, Meister says, what happens is that snowmobile trails and cross country ski trails run side by side."
Today, the U.S. Forest Service released its revised plan in response to the 2010 decision by the federal court.
The Forest Service says it will:
- Continue to allow gun hunting in the previously designated Semiprimitive Nonmotorized and Primitive areas of the Huron-Manistee National Forests in accordance with regulations of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
- Continue to allow snowmobiling on designated trails within the Huron-Manistee National Forests.
Ken Arbogast of the U.S. Forest Service says for the public visiting the national forest, very little will change.
What's changed, he said, is the description of these areas. The plan now describes the areas in contention as areas that are "more secluded" and "less roaded" - but it does not leave the impression that noise from human activity will be absent.
The Huron-Manistee forest covers about 1 million acres of land. The land in contention covers about 70,000 acres.