2013-11-14 / Outdoors

Hiawatha forest opens to hunters, rules in place

GLADSTONE – As Michigan’s 2013 Firearm Deer Season draws near once again, the Hiawatha National Forest is reminding hunters to have a safe, enjoyable hunt on National Forest lands.

The Hiawatha National Forest provides nearly a million acres of public land for the use and enjoyment of the American people.

“We hope hunters enjoy their National Forest and have a safe, fun, and successful hunt,” said Hiawatha National Forest Supervisor Jo Reyer.

Reyer reminds hunters that it is important while enjoying public lands to also be respectful of private lands. The following information provides a few reminders about the use and enjoyment of National Forest System land:

Camping on the Hiawatha: There is a 16 day maximum stay limit at any one location while camping on the Hiawatha. If you wish to continue camping after 16 days, you must move more than five miles away. While camping on the National Forest, campers are allowed to gather down wood for campfires, but that wood can not be removed from the National Forest without a valid firewood permit.

Wheeled Motor Vehicle Use: All wheeled motor vehicles, including ORVs, are only allowed on National Forest roads and trails shown open on the forest’s current Motor Vehicle Use Map. The map is updated annually and is available free of charge at all Hiawatha National Forest offices or on the web at www.fs.fed.us/r9/ forests/hiawatha/maps/MVUM.

Baiting and Hunting: For accurate information about hunting regulations in Michigan, hunters should review the current year’s MDNR “Michigan Hunting and Trapping Guide,” paying particular attention to rules about Baiting, Blinds on Public Lands, and Hunting. The MDNR’s Guide is available at DNR Field Sites and Hiawatha National Forest Offices. There are some differences between hunting on state land versus National Forest System lands.

Blinds: Hunters should note that when hunting on National Forest lands, blinds cannot be permanent and must be removed at the conclusion of this season. Blinds on National Forest System lands should meet the Michigan DNR’s requirements as described in the 2013 Michigan Hunting and Trapping Guide.

Emerald Ash Borer: Don’t bring firewood with you; use only firewood cut and purchased locally, or collected at your site. Infestations of the non-native emerald ash borer have been discovered within the Forest. The pest has also been found off National Forest lands in the U.P. If not controlled, EAB threatens to kill ash trees throughout the midwest; ash mast is an important food for wildlife. This infestation has resulted in state-issued quarantine areas. No hardwood firewood is allowed to be transported north across the Mackinac Bridge, or from Wisconsin.

Safety: This is always a special concern for hunters, but many hunters may not be aware of the unique dangers posed by clandestine drug operations (such as marijuana grow sites and methamphetamine production sites) operating illegally on public land. These sites pose serious danger to anyone who might stumble upon them.

Common signs of marijuana grows include:

• Informal, unmarked hiking trails;

• Signs of human habitation in remote areas (camping, cooking, trash);

• Signs of gardening (cultivation/soil disturbance, tools, irrigation, plastic sheets, chicken wire, fertilizer, insecticides) in remote forested areas;

• Trash in remote areas;

• Propane bottles or tanks. Growers use propane to avoid smoke from campfires.

• Booby traps such as explosives triggered by trip wires.

Signs of a methamphetamine production lab include the presence of:

• Household chemicals;

• Glassware and tubing;

• Cookstoves or bunson burners.

If you come across signs of illegal activity:

• Do not approach or confront the individuals present at the site; do not in any way indicate that you are suspicious of their activities.

For additional information contact the district ranger office.

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