- Associated Press - Sunday, July 19, 2015

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Officials are inviting the public to comment on a draft plan for managing Lake Michigan islands that are under the jurisdiction of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The plan deals with land administered by the DNR on Beaver, Garden, High, Hog, North Fox, South Fox and Whiskey islands.

The agency hosted public meetings last year to hear ideas from island residents, partners, tribal governments, local governments and conservation organizations. Information gathered from the meetings was used to craft the plan.

“It’s been a great process of pulling together many different interests on the use of the state-managed land on Lake Michigan islands,” Keith Kintigh, a field operations manager with the Department of Natural Resources, said in a statement. “We’ve used the information gathered to draft a management plan, and it’s now ready to be reviewed.”

Kintigh said he will be looking at comments he receives before Aug. 31 by email at [email protected]

An open house will be held at 1 p.m. Monday at Beaver Island Community School. The island in northern Lake Michigan is the lake’s largest island, about 13 miles long, 3 to 6 miles wide and covering about 56 square miles.

The department says the proposal grows out of a 2013 Managed Public Land Strategy.

That plan “provided a broad framework for the continued conservation, use and enjoyment of these lands that was congruent with the department’s goals of protecting cultural and natural resources, providing recreational opportunities, and fostering economic prosperity,” the department said in the draft. “Successful implementation of the department’s Strategy will be driven by collaboration with local units of governments, regional organizations, and the private and nonprofit sectors.”

Beaver Island is in northern Lake Michigan and is the lake’s largest island and the most biologically diverse of those in the plan, the department said. About 12,000 of its 36,000 acres are state lands.

“Natural features surveys have identified numerous occurrences of threatened and endangered species on the island, including designated critical habitat for piping plovers,” an endangered bird that nests in shoreline areas, the department said.

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Online:

Draft plan: https://1.usa.gov/1Opp1g7

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