By NIKKI YOUNK
NORWAY - Officials from both the Michigan and Wisconsin Departments of Natural Resources (DNR) made themselves available Wednesday at the Norway Schools to hear public comment on the development of the new Menominee River State Recreation Area.
Nikki Younk/Daily News Photo
Paul Curtis, park management plan administrator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), goes over a map of the Menominee River State Recreation Area with local residents who attended the DNR’s public input workshop in Norway on Wednesday. The section outlined in red that he is pointing to is the Piers Gorge area. The other two sections of the recreation area, also outlined in red, are further down the river.
The recreation area encompasses 9,767 acres along 17 miles of the Menominee River in Michigan and Wisconsin.
The northern section includes the Piers Gorge area near Norway in Michigan and Niagara in Wisconsin, while the central and southern sections include the Quiver Falls area near Faithorn in Michigan and Pembine in Wisconsin.
Paul Curtis, park management plan administrator for the Michigan DNR, emphasized that the planning process is currently in the preliminary phase.
Immediate activity at the recreation area will be limited to maintenance of existing features, such as parking lots, roads, and boat launches. Other developments will not be made until after the management plan is approved, which is estimated to be in the first quarter of 2014.
"We need input from you throughout this development process," Curtis told local residents who attended the public input workshop. "This will be the first of many opportunities to do so."
Residents' concerns included:
- Admission costs.
Curtis said that since the recreation area will be a state park, all visitors on the Michigan side must have a Michigan Recreation Passport and all visitors on the Wisconsinside must have a daily or annual permit.
Michigan residents can purchase annual Michigan Recreation Passports for $10 when they renew their vehicle registrations. Proof of purchase is indicated by the letter "P" on the top and bottom of the license plate tab.
Passports can also be purchased on site at state parks.
However, Curtis pointed out that there are no plans yet to place a manned entrance station at any location within the recreation area. DNR officials will likely do spot checks to ensure compliance, he added.
- Access points.
Although the Piers Gorge area is readily accessible on the Michigan side from U.S. 8 south of Norway, there currently is no access on the Wisconsin side.
Curtis encouraged residents to suggest possible access locations.
"If you have ideas, we want to hear it," he said.
Any further development in the recreation area will require funding, but Curtis said that the grant application process is still too far down the road. Once the management plan is in place, the DNRs will be able to access funding from the Michigan Recreation Passport program and DNR's Trust Fund program.
- Recreational uses of the property.
Some residents were worried that the DNRs could restrict usage of the recreation area, especially in regard to motorized boats.
Curtis explained that the DNRs designate all of their lands into different zones. Zones range from primitive, which only allows walking trails, to developed recreation, which allows for active recreation by a large number of people.
Members of the public are welcome to give input to the DNRs about how various parts of the recreation area should be zoned, said Curtis.
For more information on the planning process, go to dnr.wi.gov/topic/lands/masterplanning/MenomineeRiver .
In addition, residents are encouraged to go to www.surveymonkey.com/s/GST9HGB to fill out a public input questionnaire regarding the recreation area.
Nikki Younk's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.