MICHIGAN – Huron-Manistee National Forests hosted Leslie Weldon, deputy chief of National Forest System Land, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Joining Weldon was area director and Eastern Regional Forester Kathleen Atkinson, director of Wild and Scenic Rivers Sue Spear, and Wild and Scenic Rivers program manager Steve Chesterton.
All of the USDA Forest Service’s Wild and Scenic Rivers are very popular with local residents and recreationists across the country. Recreation program managers provided extensive information on the economic impact the forests have on the community and state, fostering an active outfitter and guide program with reported revenue of over $5 million in 2017 from fishing guides and concessionaires. This includes groups such as children's camps and most recently events for corporate groups on the Manistee River Trail which connects to the North Country National Scenic Trail.
Huron-Manistee National Forests have been hard at work monitoring and protecting aquatic resources that support 1,800 miles of streams perfect for trout, salmon and steelhead, and 17,000 acres of lakes with bass, pike and pan fish.
The visit also highlighted a number of projects and programs on the Forests that embrace shared stewardship. On the Baldwin/White Cloud ranger district, wildlife biologists highlighted successes with federally endangered species such as the Karner blue butterfly and Kirtland’s warbler. Most of the KBB work is being accomplished through a combination of stewardship and partnerships with organizations such as the National Wild Turkey Federation. The KW work has been occurring for the past 50 years, leading to the upcoming de-listing of the species. One of the most successful recovery stories in the Nation.
They also toured a Good Neighbor Authority sale site, checked out habitat improvements through prescribed fire and met with state partners who discussed the successful collaborative partnership they have developed with the Forest Service to complete shared stewardship projects across the forests.
During the visit Eastern Regional Forester Kathleen Atkinson signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding with the Saginaw Chippewa tribe of Michigan.