Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore) proposes to update its Hazard Tree Management Plan (HTMP) to include responses to current and imminent tree disease epidemics. The National Lakeshore's 2002 Hazard Tree Management Plan provides instruction for Hazard Tree crews to evaluate and treat those trees that either develop structural defects (e.g., large dead limbs) or are likely to soon fail, thereby posing a threat to Park visitors, workers, or structures. In a park with tens of thousands of acres of forested landscape, careful and effective implementation of the 2002 HTMP has meant very few tree-related incidents over the years.
The National Lakeshore has begun to see the effects of the Emerald Ash Borer and Beech Bark Disease epidemics, two tree diseases with very high mortality rates. A third tree disease, Oak Wilt, has been reported nearby and is likely to appear in the National Lakeshore's forests soon.
Ash and Beech are both abundant as large-sized canopy trees in the National Lakeshore's forests, including near developed areas, roads, trails, and adjacent landowner property lines. As these trees die, this will mean an increased hazard tree workload, and will present the National Lakeshore with decisions about how to respond. Responses may include procedures such as preemptively removing trees that do not yet present the usual hazard tree characteristics (in cases where they do show clear disease symptoms) to avoid dangerous tree removal situations, stump grinding, and using a vibratory blade implement to isolate the root systems of infected oak stands, in the event of Oak Wilt infections.
This plan update will not include details on responding to the tree pests and diseases, as these actions are already being implemented. Rather, it will focus only on hazard tree management and possible restoration activities.
An Environmental Assessment (EA) of this project will be prepared and, as part of this planning process, we welcome your ideas and input regarding any issues or concerns relevant to you. We are especially interested in things you would like us to consider as we plan the project.
An Environmental Assessment (EA) of this project is being prepared. The first step in this process--public scoping--is complete. This comment period ended February 15, 2014, and the comments submitted during this "scoping" phase of planning are now being evaluated. These comments will be considered during the development of alternatives and analysis of impacts. Thank you to everyone who commented!
The EA will be made available for further public review. At that time, we will again solicit public input. For more information, please contact the National Lakeshore at 231-326-4700 or visit the National Park Service Planning Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website.
The address for this project is parkplanning.nps.gov/slbehaztree.