DNR Collects Feedback for Recreational Use Planning

The public had an opportunity to speak with nearly two dozen Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials about recreation on state land in the northeast part of the state. DNR officials hope the Recreational Opportunities Analysis (ROA) will fill a gap in the planning process after the department reorganized that process earlier this year.

“We have a lot on that ecological side of the properties in our department-managed plans but we didn’t really seem to have a counterpart document, that recreation piece,” said Diane Brusoe, property planning section chief with the DNR.

At the forum Aug. 22 at Stone Harbor Resort in Sturgeon Bay, residents filled out cards detailing their favorite DNR properties and outdoor recreation activities, including what they would hope to see at these properties in the future.

The DNR reorganized the master planning process for its properties earlier this year, moving to a broader region-based plan instead of developing plans for individual properties.

Master planning for parks has fallen behind schedule, with the most recent plan for a Door County state park being completed 30 years ago at Potawatomi State Park.

In a March 1 presentation before the Natural Resources Board (NRB), Brusoe said the change will help the department prioritize resources and dedicate staff with a more strategic and comprehensive approach. In a March interview, Brusoe said the changes will not dilute the specificity of the plans, favoring a comprehensive approach that takes the fluidity of natural resources into account.

There will one plan for each of the 16 ecological regions of the state, but the ROA divided the state into eight regions. After hosting these forums in each of the eight recreational regions, the DNR will overlay that information onto the ecological regions before finalizing the 16 plans across the state.

“For our natural resources, the data is summarized, collected and compiled based on the ecological landscape,” said Brusoe. “That’s the way our resources fall, they don’t fall on political boundaries.”

Ecologically, most of Door County except for the southwest corner of the county is classified as the Northern Lake Michigan Coastal region along with parts of Marinette, Oconto and Shawano counties across the bay.

“When it came to the recreation side of things, recreation data is gathered much more on a political boundary, often because it does include socioeconomic data,” said Brusoe.

Recreationally, Door County is part of the Upper Lake Michigan Coastal region along with Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Brown, Oconto and Marinette counties.

“It’s all about packaging and being more comprehensive,” said Brusoe.

Data presented at the DNR forum on Aug. 22 showed the region including Door County participated in more hunting and snowmobiling than the state average.

Taking public comment about recreational opportunities into account, the DNR will return to the public again in October with a draft of the plan for the Upper Lake Michigan Coastal recreational region. After finalizing the plan in November, the department will overlay that plan with the data from the Northern Lake Michigan Coastal region ecological plan to develop the master plan for the region.

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