DNR meets at Porkies: Several issues were in conversation

MDNR Photo Diana Oman of Marquette discusses problems with launching boats at the Oman Creek boating access site Wednesday at the DNR Western Upper Peninsula Citizens’ Advisory Council meeting at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

Representatives from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Natural Resource Commission met Wednesday at the Porcupine Mountains Ski Chalet for the Western Upper Peninsula Citizens Advisory Council (WUP-CAC) and hosted by Gogebic Community College (GCC).

Before the WUP-CAC meeting, GCC provided council members with the opportunity to take the chair lift to get a view of the Fall Colors. It will be this weekend that GCC opens the opportunity to take a chairlift to the top of the Porkies to the general public.

“It was a good opportunity for CAC members to see something associated with the State Park system that they may not be familiar with. The college operates the Ski area for the State of Michigan, and it was a pleasure to host the chair lift and for the CAC to see a great vista here in Ontonagon County,” stated Jim Lorenson, GCC President and a WUP-CAC member.

Starting this Saturday, and running every Saturday and Sunday for at least 4 weeks, from noon to 7 p.m., the public will have a chance to take the chair lift.

“The cost will be $7.00 for adults, children under 12 will be free,” according to Jim Vandrspoel, Porcupine Mountain Ski Hill.

After several DNR representatives from the different divisions gave their reports, the WUP-CAC heard from different people on DNR issues. On the agenda and receiving attention from members of the public, and the DNR, was the Oman Creek harbor and boat landing.

Diana Oman showed pictures of both past work and the current situation. She stated her concern about shoreline erosion and water depth, along with other problems associated with work done by engineers under contract with the DNR.

“One has to remember that this is the only Lake Superior access for a long way, all the way up to Union Bay, here at the Porkies,” stated DNR’s Natural Resources Commission Chairman, John Matonich.

Jeff Gaertner, Porkies and Lake Gogebic State Parks Unit Manager gave an update on the work being done at Oman Creek.

Dan Yule of the U.S. Geological Survey, gave a power-point presentation on Lake Superior Prey Fish. Yule, based out of Ashland, Wisconsin, stated how the prey fish numbers have declined over the past few years, while the numbers of predator fish are on the incline.

It wasn’t just Lake Superior fish that was discussed at the meeting. George Madison, the DNR’s acting Lake Superior Unit Manager, talked about inland fish stocking and statistics. Madison stated that the very same presentation he gave at the WUP-CAC meeting is the same presentation that he gave to members of the WUP-CAC’s Fish sub-committee.

This drew the ‘ire’ of a couple of those Fish sub-committee members that have been at Madison’s presentation. Madison disagreed with those WUP-CAC members.

The WUP-CAC meets every other month at locations from Delta County, west to Gogebic County. Each county gets the chance once every two years to host a WUP-CAC meeting.

“The Porkies is always one of our more favorable venues to meet. I would have to say that the appearance of the public to the degree that they participated is a healthy sign of the interest in the CAC,” stated Phil Wirtanen, WUP-CAC Chairman. “Content-wise this was one of our better meetings dealing with in-depth conversation on real issues.”

One of the people instrumental in the success of the close to 10 years that both the Western and Eastern Upper Peninsula Citizens Advisory Councils has been meeting is Stacy Haughey. Haughey is the DNR’s Upper Peninsula Regional Coordinator and Executive Director, based out of the Marquette DNR office.

“We (DNR) had a blast, from the drive over to the chair lift rides. Really appreciate the hospitality of the GCC and the Porkies staff,” remarked Haughey.

As far as the CAC issues and topics, Haughey concluded by stating, “It ceases to amaze me the topics, the time, and the information at the meetings.”

The next WUP-CAC meeting will be on November 2nd, at Bay College in Iron Mountain.