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PRNL set to hold open house

MUNISING — Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore will host two public open house meeting regarding the draft visitor use management plan for the areas between Munising Falls and Spray Falls.

The Visitor Use Management Plan identifies long-term strategies to address visitor experience issues. The plan also includes a variety of improvements such as additional bathroom facilities, new changing stations at popular beaches, additional parking, and road improvements to improve traffic flow.

The public open houses are from 6-8 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Alger Heritage Center, 1496 Washington St. in Munising; and from 6-8 p.m. Nov. 14 at Peter White Public Library, 217 N. Front St., in Marquette.

According to a release from the lakeshore, people may come and go during these open houses to view informational posters, ask questions, and speak with the planning team. No formal program is included.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore has experienced a dramatic visitation increase in recent years, particularly between Munising Falls to Spray Falls, according to the release. High concentrations of visitors, changes in visitation patterns, and increased commercial kayak use have contributed to conflicts between visitors, a degraded visitor experience, safety concerns, and damage to facilities and natural features.

In addition to long-term strategies to improve the visitor experience, the plan also proposes separating commercially guided kayaking trips and private lakeshore visitors. Finally, the plan includes guidance for park managers to monitor visitor use and capacity, and provides options to adaptively manage visitor use if conditions change.

Visitor use planning for the Munising Falls to Spray Falls area has been ongoing since 2017. The current plan is informed by public suggestions and input received in spring 2018, as well as social science research that was conducted by the University of Minnesota.

The Munising Falls to Spray Falls Visitor Use Management Plan is also available for public review and comment. The public is encouraged to review the plan, which includes a draft environmental assessment, at http://parkplanning.nps. gov/PIRO_VUMplan. Comments should be submitted through the website and will be accepted through Dec. 7.

All comments on the visitor use management plan and draft environmental assessment are informative and welcome. The National Park Service is particularly interested in comments regarding the accuracy and adequacy of the information and analysis contained in the plan. These types of comments will be addressed and incorporated during the next step of the planning process.