MINUTES NATURAL RESOURCES COMMISSION|
October 9-10, 2003
Radisson Hotel of Lansing
111 N. Grand Avenue
Stevens T. Mason Building
530 W. Allegan
PRESENT FOR THE COMMISSION
Keith Charters, Chairman
Paul Eisele, Vice Chairman
PRESENT FOR STAFF
K. L. Cool, Director
Jim Riley, Legal Counsel
George Burgoyne, Resource Management Deputy
Jim Ekdahl, Upper Peninsula Field Deputy
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chairman Charters called the Committee of the Whole meeting of the
Natural Resources Commission (NRC) to order at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday,
October 9, 2003. The Committee of the Whole is a working session of the
Lake Erie Update
Gary Towns, Fisheries Division, Lake Erie Management Unit Supervisor,
presented the updated proposal for walleye management in Lake Erie. He
reviewed current Lake Erie walleye quota management as well as showing a
map of where the walleye populations exist. Quota management provides
long-term shared management across Lake Erie crossing State and national
boundaries. He reviewed why there is a problem with walleye populations
and production. During 2003, all States have worked toward developing
regulations to curb harvest in their jurisdictional waters. The
reductions have been widely advertised, and the groups and public have
been very involved in the process.
Two options are being presented for consideration:
Option A increases the walleye minimum size limit from 13 inches to 15
inches and reduces the daily bag limit from six to five. It also
proposes to close Lake Erie off to harvest from April 1 to May 31.
Biologists predict that 40 percent of the harvest will be reduced under
Option B increases the walleye minimum size limit from 13 inches to 15
inches and reduces the daily bag limit from six to four. It also
proposes to close Lake Erie off to harvest from April 1 to the first
Saturday in May. Biologists predict that 40 percent of the harvest will
be reduced under this Option.
Both options include going from a 13 inch to a 15 inch minimum size
limit on the Detroit River and will reduce the daily bag limit from six
to five fish.
Commissioner Garner said that the options have been discussed with
groups and the public and Option A would be preferred by the majority.
Natural Rivers Legislation Update
Dennis Knapp, Legislative Liaison, reported that House Bills 4641 and
4642, proposed revisions to the Natural Rivers Legislation, have passed
the House of Representatives. The Bills allow local governments to
remove designation after four years if a majority of affected local
governmental units pass resolutions opposing the designation. The two
tie-barred bills, which would apply to any Natural Rivers designated
after January 1, 2003 (Pine and Upper Manistee Rivers) have been
referred to the Senate Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs
Committee. The Legislation will also place designation authority of
Natural Rivers with the NRC instead of the Director and require the DNR
to notify each landowner within the proposed Natural River area and
provide each landowner an opportunity to receive regular updates on
meetings related to the proposed designated areas. Mr. Knapp stated
that the DNR believes this Legislation, if passed, would cripple the
Natural Rivers designation laws.
Quality Stream Regulations Criteria
Todd Grischke, Fisheries Division, reviewed the history of quality
stream regulations in Michigan. The current regulations were originally
developed in the 1980s. Public Act 434 of 2002 mandated changing from
100 miles to 212 miles, where gear restrictions regulations can be
placed on trout streams. DNR staff was required to develop criteria and
present it to the NRC for discussion and feedback. Staff has been
working with fishing organizations as well as internally, to develop
these criteria. Mr. Grischke reviewed the flow chart for criteria for
selection of trout streams with gear restriction regulations. He stated
that there will be no change to the regulations as they are understood
and that user groups fully supported the criteria.
Withdrawal of Bald Mountain Recreation Area - Oakland County
Deputy Burgoyne withdrew the Parks and Recreation Land Exchange, Bald
Mountain Recreation Area - Oakland County, from action at this time.
Becky Humphries, Wildlife Division Chief, reported on the
Double-crested Cormorant (DCCO) Final Rule as published in the Federal
Register on October 8, 2003. The effective date of the rule is November
7, 2003 to April 30, 2009 and authorizes take at aquaculture facilities
(Michigan not included). The rule authorizes State fish and wildlife
agencies, Federally recognized Tribes, and State Directors of USDA and
APHIS to prevent depredations on the public resources of fish, wildlife,
plants, and their habitats by taking, without a permit, DCCOs found
committing or about to commit, such depredation. Discussion ensued on
* * *
The Committee of the Whole adjourned at 4:10 p.m.
* * *
REGULAR MEETING OF THE NATURAL RESOURCES COMMISSION
Chairman Charters called the regular meeting of the Natural Resources
Commission (NRC) to order at 4:35 p.m.
Michael Veine believes that closing Michigan's April and May Lake Erie
walleye season will not significantly reduce the overall Lake Erie
catch, but will shift the catch to Ohio waters and to the Maumee and
Detroit Rivers. As an outdoor writer, he stated, this is not good for
the resource. He believes that these regulations would be unenforceable
due to border issues; he does not believe creel census numbers are
accurate; and does not believe the walleye population is declining. He
believes the census numbers are being utilized for political purposes
and Ohio's regulations should be duplicated by Michigan. Curtis Bacon,
Acting Law Enforcement Chief, does not believe these regulations will be
difficult to enforce. Kurt Newman, Fisheries Division, said there needs
to be a stable age distribution in the Lake to maintain the fishery.
Commissioner Campbell said the DNR must maintain the fishery to protect
its reputation as a "world-class" fishery and for the health of the
charter boat businesses. Mr. Veine asked that the April season be left
open, but agreed with increasing the size limit to 15 inches. He
opposes any fishing laws that are more stringent that those of Ohio.
Terry Picard, Chairman, Lake Erie/Lake St. Clair Fishery Advisory
Council, said the Council's make-up is of a diverse group of people. He
said the Council met in May, 2003 to review options relative to fishing
regulations in Lake Erie. The compromise reached was Option A as
proposed. After meeting with many organizations on this Option, all but
one supported. The consensus was that a two month closure would be less
detrimental than a four-fish daily bag limit. He believes that
something drastic is occurring in the fishery and something needs to be
done to protect the fishery. Mr. Picard supported Option A.
Commissioner Garner thanked Mr. Picard for his efforts in this process
and stated that if something isn't done soon, the proposed Options will
look miniscule in comparison to what will have to be done to bring the
fishery back. Director Cool questioned what Mr. Picard believed would
be the impact of a loss of a month of fishing in Lake Erie. Mr. Picard
responded that, personally, he will miss it, but that it is a necessary
step. Director Cool said that Option B was created as an option for
individuals who wish to fish in the months of April and May.
Rich Bowman, Trout Unlimited, noted he had not received comments on the
coldwater regulations from members, so he believes they are acceptable.
He reported that Trout Unlimited passed a resolution opposing the
permitting of mining operations in sulfide formations. He recommended
the NRC become educated on this process, if they weren't already.
Relative to special gear restrictions, Trout Unlimited supports the
Michael Bretsik questioned the process for bear and elk drawings.
Commissioner Garner explained the drawing process and recommended that
he talk to Wildlife Division staff for more information and to answer
several questions he had on the issue.
Elden Montross, and Rachel Shymkiw, commented on a potential
realignment of Williams Lake Road, Pontiac Lake Recreation Area. His
concern that one of the options would remove approximately 58 acres from
the recreation area coming close to Pontiac Lake and wetland areas. He
asked that the DNR not consider selling 58 acres to the county for
purposes of relocating Williams Lake Road. (This issue was not on the
agenda for consideration).
Ron Dubsky, Michigan Charter Boat Association, presented a proposal on
new walleye regulations for 2004 in Lake Erie as follows: closed season
for walleye fishing on Lake Erie in April, the first three weeks in May,
all of August and September; raise the minimum size limit from 13 inches
to 15 inches, and reduce the daily bag limit from six to five fish on
Lake Erie; and raise the minimum size limit from 13 to 15 inches and
reduce the daily bag limit from six to five fish on the Detroit River.
This proposal was submitted by the Western Basin Charter Boat
Association, Michigan Charter Boat Association, and various Lake Erie
anglers and merchants.
Chairman Charters entered a letter from Brenda Archambo, President,
Sturgeon for Tomorrow in Cheboygan yielding support for the Statewide
Sam Washington, MUCC, reviewed a letter from him to Governor Jennifer
Granholm, expressing concern regarding the use of DNR's restricted fund
to address the budget crisis. The letter urges the Governor not to
utilize DNR's restricted funds for anything other than their intended
purpose. His letter states that, "In no case does the Governor, or the
Departments of Natural Resources or Management and Budget have the
authority to use these restricted funds to resolve budget deficits in
areas not permitted under their authorizing acts."
Mr. Washington also stated he looks forward to the report by the
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Task Force which is to be presented to
Governor Granholm by October 15. He stated he hopes the report will
fall in line with thinking by the NRC and DNR in that it strives to keep
CWD out of Michigan.
Mr. Washington stated that a report will be out soon relative to the
DNR use of Kiosks. He asked that the DNR review the report prior to the
DNR expanding its use of Kiosks and taking on additional investments.
Mr. Washington recommended that public meetings not be held in State
office buildings where escorts are necessary from the lobby.
Rob Anderson, Michigan Farm Bureau, distributed the latest issue of
Farm Bureau News which contains an insert to raise awareness to farmers
on allowing hunting access and the permits that are available as tools
for controlling deer on their property.
Chairman Charters asked if Michigan Farm Bureau attempts to discourage
selling of deer baiting materials in the "no-baiting" area. No response
Commissioner Wheatlake questioned why Michigan Farm Bureau was not
supportive of Natural Rivers Designation. Mr. Anderson responded that
Farm Bureau policy supports better reflection of property owner impacts
in designated areas.
Robert Hamilton, Manager, City of Monroe, and the Monroe City Council,
supported the Parks and Recreation and Boating Access Site Land Exchange
at William C. Sterling State Park; Bolles Harbor Boating Access Site and
Otter Creek Boating Access Site. Mr. Hamilton also read a letter from
the city's attorney stating they had reviewed the City ordinance
relating to weapons and explosives verifying the permitted use of
shotguns and bows and arrows by hunters licensed by the Michigan DNR in
pursuit of game animals which are in season on all properties within the
City of Monroe situated east of I-75 and north of the River Raisin.
Bill Braunlich, Vice President, Monroe County Historical Society,
supported the Parks and Recreation and Boating Access Site Land Exchange
at William C. Sterling State Park; Bolles Harbor Boating Access Site and
Otter Creek Boating Access Site. He believes it enhances access to
natural resources; has historical implications in preserving the
battlefield; and believes it is in the best interest of citizens of
Director Cool asked for assurance from the City of Monroe that, in
generations to come, waterfowl will be managed by the DNR on the jointly
owned wetland area. Mr. Hamilton responded that a covenant is on record
that will allow hunting managed by the DNR for generations to come.
Director Cool thanked all parties involved for their professional
approach in working on the exchange. He introduced Roger Homrich, who
has offered his property in exchange for State lands. Director Cool
thanked him for making the exchange possible.
Captain Don Dietz, Westerbasin Charter Boat Association, supported
Option A of the Lake Erie fishing regulations. He also expressed
support for the proposal presented by Captain Dubsky earlier. Captain
Dietz expressed concern that catch data presented by staff may not be
accurate. He is concerned that fish caught in Ohio nay be reported as
caught in Michigan. He believes that fishing regulations should be on a
lake-wide basis versus statewide.
* * *
The Natural Resources Commission meeting adjourned at 6:01 p.m. on
Thursday, October 9, 2003 and reconvened at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, October
* * *
National Archery in the Schools Program
Director Cool reported the DNR intends to initiate a pilot of the
National Archery in the Schools Program by the end of this year. Doug
Finley, Education and Outreach, said the DNR must make nontraditional
connections to include this program into the school activities.
Chairman Charters believes this is an excellent program for Michigan to
become involved in. Dennis Knapp, Legislative Liaison, said that there
is Legislative interest in this program as well as interest by First
Gentleman Dan Mulhern.
Lake Erie Walleye Regulations
Commissioner Campbell supports Option A.
Jim Dexter, Acting Chief, Fisheries Division, noted that these
regulations are reviewed annually and staff could come back with
recommended changes in a year. Commissioner Eisele wanted to ensure
that it is understood that these regulations are not permanent and they
can be reviewed and revised annually.
1836 TREATY ISSUES ON INLAND HUNTING AND FISHING
Jim Ekdahl, Upper Peninsula Field Deputy, reported that every inch of
Michigan is covered by Indian treaties. In 1979, the Courts affirmed a
treaty-reserved right for 1836 Treaty tribes to fish in Great Lakes
waters under tribal authority. Left in question was inland hunting and
fishing rights. The 1836 tribes have been issuing permits to hunt and
fish that are not in compliance with state hunting and fishing
regulations. Attorney General Michael Cox recently filed a motion in
federal court requesting to initiate a court case that would establish
whether treaty rights remain in effect in the inland treaty area, or if
these rights were extinguished when the land was settled. The 1836
Treaty tribes have a deadline to accept or object to the motion to
initiate this case in early November. If this goes to court, Mr. Ekdahl
believes it will be a lengthy process and believes it will be one of the
most significant treaty cases in recent years.
Director Cool intends to sign all Director's Action items on the
agenda; excluding the Bald Mountain Recreation Area Parks and Recreation
Land Exchange which was WITHDRAWN; AND including Option A of the Lake
Erie Fishing Regulations.
Commissioner Eisele made a motion, supported by Commissioner Madigan,
for approval. Motion unanimously carried.
NRC POLICY COMMITTEE REPORTS
NRC Policy Committee on Land Management Meeting Report
The NRC Policy Committee on Land Management met on September 23, 2003
at the Waterloo Recreation Area. Present for the Committee were
Commissioner Eisele (Committee Chair) and Commissioner Wheatlake. NRC
Chairman Keith Charters and Commissioner Jim Campbell were also in
attendance. Discussions focused on DNR landholding boundaries. The
Committee intends to go through all DNR landholdings, to determine:
boundaries, excess lands and needs for additional lands. This meeting
focused on State Park lands. Commissioner Eisele commended staff for
their hard work in assembling the information necessary to address these
issues. Chairman Charters stated that the presentation made at the
meeting by Parks and Recreation Bureau staff was excellent.
NRC Policy Committee on Finance and Administration
The NRC Policy Committee on Finance and Administration met on September
29, 2003 in Lansing. Commissioners Parfet (Committee Chair) and
Wheatlake were present for the NRC. NRC Chairman Charters and
Commissioner Garner were also in attendance. Topics of discussion
included: investment updates; the audit universe;
Payment-In-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILT); restricted funds; a presentation from
Waterways Commissioners relative to gas tax; and the Federal audit.
Commissioner Wheatlake noted (in Commission Parfet's absence) that
Commissioner Parfet had met with Senator Sikkema to discuss Natural
Rivers and the value of these designations.
NRC Policy Committee on Wildlife Issues
The NRC Policy Committee on Wildlife Issues met on October 9, 2003 at
1:00 p.m. in Lansing. Commissioners Garner (Committee Chair) and
Campbell were present for the Committee. Commissioner Madigan also
attended. Discussions were held on: cormorants and low water levels
plaguing waterfowl; hunter orange; and quality deer management.
Upper Peninsula Habitat Committee
Commissioner Madigan stated he had met with groups to further discuss
winter deer yard habitat and believes this is a very important issue.
He will continue to meet with groups on this issue. He has received
positive feedback from folks in the Upper Peninsula (UP) relative to
activities of the Committee.
NRC Policy Committee on Technology, Information, Marketing and
The NRC Policy Committee on TIME met in October 9, 2003 at 11:00 a.m.
in Lansing. Commissioner Campbell (Committee Chair), and Commissioner
Garner attended on behalf of the NRC. Commissioner Campbell reported
that the following issues were discussed: status of the LAPs program
which is being widely used by 4th grade teachers in their curriculum;
the audit on multiple identifications utilized in issuing licenses; and
ways to amend inaccurate information on permit applications.
Commissioner Madigan reported that he has received positive feedback
from UP citizens and groups on the activities of the Habitat Committee
as well as the decision on motorized vehicles in State Parks. He
attended a UP Whitetails meeting in Manistique where he won a wagon load
of sugar beets.
Commissioner Campbell received phone calls and correspondence regarding
the Island Lake Shooting Range, poaching and other DNR related issues.
He also attended the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge
Commissioner Eisele testified at the Joint Legislative Hearing on
forestry issues and reported that Masco had submitted comments to the
Michigan Manufacturer's Association relative to forestry certification.
Commissioner Wheatlake complimented staff on their work in assembling
information for presentation at the Land Management Committee meetings
where state property boundaries are being discussed. He toured the
Cheboygan to Gaylord Trail, Mullett Lake segment with Commissioner
Parfet, Mindy Koch and staff and stated that a solution should be
provided in December 2003. He spent time hunting, received
correspondence and phone calls regarding DNR issues; and stated he would
like to see more Commissioner involvement in the budget process.
Commissioner Garner participated in the "Ask the DNR" television show.
He believes callers were calmer this year because hunting regulations
have been made more consistent.
Chairman Charters attended the Land Management and Finance and
Administration Committee meetings and ran a meeting, along with Wildlife
Division staff, in Hillman to discuss bovine TB in deer. He thanked
Commissioner Madigan again for his hospitality in Munising in September.
Chairman Charters stated that NRC Goals will be addressed during the
Committee of the Whole meeting in December. In December, the Commission
will also discuss establishing a Director Search Committee.
The NRC agreed that the November 2003 NRC meeting would be a one-day
meeting on November 6.
* * *
The meeting adjourned at 9:45 a.m.