LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Ed McBroom on Tuesday joined several residents and groups from the Upper Peninsula in opposing a Senate resolution urging Congress to designate four more national wilderness areas in the Ottawa National Forest.
“We strongly oppose designating over 51,000 acres of Upper Peninsula forestland as federally protected wilderness areas. This is yet another attempt by down-state interests to tell U.P. families how to live their lives and use their land — we are not a national park,” said McBroom, R-Waucedah Township. “No one has expressed what problem this action seeks to solve. While there is little evidence this federal takeover would improve the forest ecosystem, it certainly would have a negative impact on our economy and severely hurt tourism by limiting certain forms of outdoor recreation.
“Further, it would end management of the forests, making both these tracts and those adjacent more susceptible to fire, disease and invasive species. The federal management of federal forests nationwide is already poor, making profitable harvests and fire prevention inadequate and undependable. Stopping good forest management with a wilderness designation runs counter to all who care about healthy forests.”
McBroom said, “People can currently enjoy a wide range of activities in the Ottawa National Forest, such as hiking, wildlife viewing, hunting and fishing, camping, riding an ORV and boating. A wilderness designation would significantly limit recreational access to these areas by prohibiting motorized vehicles and equipment, hinder those with mobility challenges and disabilities and limit access to the elderly unable to walk long distances.”
The National Wilderness Preservation System was established in 1964 and is made up of more than 800 national wilderness areas, which are defined as “areas of undeveloped federal land retaining their primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation.” National wilderness areas must be formally designated by Congress and are subject to specific management restrictions that generally aim to preserve them in their natural condition.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 11, sponsored by an Ann Arbor senator, urges the U.S. Congress to designate Trap Hills (25,000 acres north of Bergland), Ehlco area (16,000 acres south of the Porcupine Mountains), Norwich Plains (8,000 acres northeast of Bergland), and a 2,000-acre expansion of the existing Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness (16,744 acres) as federal wilderness areas.
Last year, McBroom sponsored SR 150, which was adopted by the Senate in June 2022, to oppose the designation of the additional national wilderness areas in the U.P.
Henry Schienebeck of the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association mentioned that the Record of Decision of the 2006 Ottawa National Forest Management Plan includes a determination by the National Forest Service that the areas currently under discussion lack wilderness characteristics and have a “low to moderate wilderness potential.” The special attributes the proponents offer as reasons for protection, have come about due to a management system that includes timber harvesting as a tool to keep the entire area in a healthy and desirable condition.
Editor’s note: The above photograph is available by clicking on the image or by visiting SenatorEdMcBroom.com/photos.
Photo caption: State Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Waucedah Township, joined several residents and groups from the Upper Peninsula in opposing a Senate Concurrent Resolution 11, which urges Congress to designate four more national wilderness areas in the Ottawa National Forest.