ESCANABA - With the return or merger of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Quality into one agency (MDNRE), there is no question 2010 will continue as part of the era of change we are seeing in Michigan's natural resources management.
Governor Granholm has made a great choice in keeping Rebecca Humphries at the helm as she made her reappointment as MDNRE Director Wednesday.
Spanning a career in Michigan of over three decades, Humphries was first hired by the MDNR Real Estate Division in 1978, becoming a resource specialist in 1981. She then moved to the Wildlife Division, working as a habitat biologist, then promoted to Grand Rapids district wildlife biologist in 1986.
In March of 1996, Humphries was appointed the resource deputy, advancing then to resource management deputy in 1997 into her position as Chief of the Wildlife Division in 1998. She was appointed by the NRC to the post of Director in 2004 where she remains.
According to Bruce Rasher who served as the DNR/DEQ Transition Coordinator, "The DNRE transition report clearly spells out how the department can be more effective and nimble in its day-to-day operations with customers, businesses and stakeholders," Rasher said.
"This plan focuses on the smartest, most creative ways of delivering service to its constituents, and the governor has made an excellent choice in tapping Becky Humphries to lead the department. Her experience and vision make her the best choice."
Two other initiatives, one within the MDNRE and the other from the Upper Peninsula Sportsmen's Alliance, will seek more involvement from the public in creating a focus on the most important needs of the era for natural resources management.
Russ Mason, Chief of the MDNRE Wildlife Division, has been in the UP this week to update the eastern and western Citizen Advisory Councils on the UP wolf issue. He is also rolling out a campaign to partner up more with the public to provide focus input, especially dealing with increased emphasis on forest land wildlife habitat stewardship.
In complement to that direction, the Upper Peninsula Sportsmen's Alliance is planning six meetings this winter throughout the UP to seek input from sportsmen and women on game species.
According to UPSA Secretary Rory Mattson, "Each meeting in the plan will have the same agenda and will strive to reach a conclusion on what the majority (of the public) wants UPSA to focus on." The project will be submitted for approval at the Jan. 23 meeting.
Discussion items will be centered on, but not limited to: 1) desired (game) population densities and structure; 2) habitat conditions to meet the food, cover and space requirements needed (for game); 3) (wildlife) feeding and baiting issues; 4) Deer Management Unit sizes; 5) game harvest (seasons and quotas) criteria."
Collection of data from all six meetings will then be combined to prioritize a list of goals/objectives and presented for approval by the UPSA membership.
"Once adopted, these planned strategies will be presented to the MDNRE and Commission for negotiation and approval," Mattson said.
Al Ettenhofer, representing the Wildlife Committee of the UPSA, is coordinating the project and is asking anyone willing to host one of the meetings to make contact with him before the next meeting so details can be worked out.
UPSA is looking for two locations in each the eastern, western UP and central region. A facility should handle approximately 200 people. Ettenhofer can be reached at (906-786-9425).
One of the items on the January agenda will be a presentation by representatives of the Predator, Prey, Habitat Study, now in its second year in the southern UP. The project emphasizes predator focus on wolf, coyote, bobcat and bear.
A unique find is that an eagle also participated in the program, having taken a new born fawn that was located from the radio collar mortality signal found in its nest along with remnants of the deer itself.
The study is being conducted through Mississippi State University utilizing graduate students for the field work and supervision from the MDNE, with biologists Dean Beyer and Craig Albright as co-investigators.
Sponsorship of the program is provided through the Safari Club International - Michigan Involvement Committee.
The UPSA meeting will be held at the Great Lakes Sports and Recreation Club in Escanaba at 10 a.m.. The general public is welcome to attend, however only those members serving as affiliate delegates will be allowed to vote on agenda items.
It will also be the annual reorganization meeting with the election of officers.
All things considered, I see 2010 starting off on the right foot, taking the necessary steps to bring all conservationists together for the good of our natural resources.
Tim Kobasic is the outdoors editor for KMB Broadcasting and host/producer for Tails & Trails Outdoor Radio, aired on six radio stations over three networks, Charter Communications cable and the Internet on Saturday mornings.