Drummond Island development under state scrutinyMichigan natural resources officials are working on plans for developing the recreation potential of Drummond Island, a 130-sq.-mile, mostly state-owned island in northern Lake Huron.
DRUMMOND TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Michigan natural resources officials are working on plans for developing the recreation potential of Drummond Island, a 130-sq.-mile, mostly state-owned island in northern Lake Huron.
Officials say they're trying to balance economic activity with protection of the wild environment on Michigan's largest island.
Michigan owns 65 percent of the 83,000 acres on the island, which is about 45 miles southeast of Sault Ste. Marie. The island makes up Chippewa County's Drummond Township, with a population of about 990.
This summer, the Department of Natural Resources is mapping out plans for its outdoor recreation use. The Detroit News reports a seven-decade-old purchase agreement limits potential uses for the land, despite increasing public calls for uses that include all-terrain vehicle and off-road vehicle trails.
Another hearing is planned Monday.
Michigan acquired its Drummond Island land in the 1940s with money from a federal excise tax on hunting equipment. That tax was established by the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937 and is paid by hunters nationwide.
The federal government redistributes the money to states to buy and maintain public hunting land. That means Michigan must use the land primarily for hunting. Drummond has about 3,000 whitetail deer.
In more recent years, the variety of outdoor sporting interests has expanded and state officials say they want to manage the land in a way that serves them.
“New forms of recreation have come into play, like off-road vehicles,” said Terry Minzey, the DNR's Upper Peninsula wildlife manager. “What we're trying to do with our comprehensive resource management plan is find a way to accommodate the variety of interests out there without violating our (purchase) agreement.”
Any expansion of the island's recreation offerings is likely to bring more people, and current residents have mixed opinions on that.
Resident Betty Bailey, 78, recalled a Lions Club meeting several years ago at which a member who had lived on Drummond Island for 15 years stood up and said it would be nice if no new people moved in.
Bailey said the response from an even longer-tenured resident was: “That's what we said when you moved in here.”
Sherry Pieknik, her husband and two boys moved in from the Grand Blanc area 12 years ago, seeking a chance for the family to grow closer and escape the bustle of the city.
“I like the smaller community, and my husband has always liked the woods,” said Pietnik, 55, as she walked her property. “But it does get a little monotonous around holidays like the Fourth of July with all of the tourists. You can put up with it a select few times a year, but I wouldn't want it to get any more cramped here.”