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West End update – Nate Heffron – city of Negaunee

Comment sought on plan

NEGAUNEE — Timber, you won’t be hearing these exact words coming from the city owned forest of Negaunee nowadays, but you may be hearing the buzz of chainsaws and heavy equipment in the near future.

The reason? A Tree USA and Forestry Management ordinance adopted by the Negaunee City Council in 2020.

Since then, city staff have been working with the Parks and Recreation Commission to develop a Tree USA program and a forestry management plan. For the purpose of this update, I will only be focusing on the management plan.

First off, why have and plan, what’s the point? A forestry management plan helps identify the resources and opportunities available on forested properties and what can be realized from these properties in terms of financial gain and long-term enjoyment.

In Negaunee’s case, our goals will focus on education, wildlife habitat, and recreation stewardship. We will be attempting to create a healthy forest using sound forestry management practices through a third party.

Nate Heffron, city manager, city of Negaunee

Harvesting timber is necessary to facilitate these goals. Where possible and appropriate, tree planting will occur to provide for the next harvest or develop specific outcomes centered around those goals of education, wildlife habitat, and recreation stewardship.

What kind of information does a forestry management plan have in it?

According to the MSU Extension office, most plans have the following components in them:

Negaunee has just begun the process of releasing what is known as a “Request for Proposals” (RFP). This process allows for individual firms to compete for the chance to provide a well-written plan to the city based on guidelines set by the City.

The firm the city hires must: (1) Must provide a 10-year plan; (2) demonstrate how potential timber sales will be handled and how the timber will be harvested consistent with environmental or other relevant constraints; (3) maintain records on timber sales and harvesting; (4) provide recommendations on plantings, harvesting, and land use and; (5) provide ongoing communication with the city concerning the adopted plan, including providing an annual report to the City Council.

Some city land will not be part of the 640-acre plan. Streets with trees, city parks and playgrounds, city facilities such as city hall, the DPW, etc., and Old Town are among the areas that would be excluded. Trees not included in the forestry plan will be managed by the city’s Parks Department.

The city will review each submitted plan and first determine which ones have provided the minimum qualifications outlined in the RFP. Those that qualify move on to the next round. This is where staff will scrutinize the plans to determine which one best meets the city’s needs, those findings will then be forwarded to the Parks and Recreation Commission.

The parks commission will review the report then recommend a firm to the city council, who will make the final decision.

Residents will have the opportunity to provide public input during the review periods held by the Parks and Recreation Commission and city council’s review of the recommendations, the

Management of an asset like forestlands is important. Without this plan, opportunities could be lost due to inaction and mismanaging. Negaunee’s public land holdings not only offer a multitude of current educational, recreation and wildlife habitat prospects, but are primed to provide new and exciting adventures to come.

We encourage you to provide your feedback during our public hearings. With your help we can Move Forward and create the best outcome for our community forests.

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