This section describes the numerous reports, media investigations and court documents that show how federal environmental laws and regulations are impeding traditional uses of federal lands in Michigan and creating a heightened perception of confrontation between private citizens and public land managers. Forest Service representatives recognize that confrontations occur. But they also note that most interactions between private landowners and public land managers are either positive or benign and do not receive media attention.[*]
Federal land managers also express a strong desire to treat property owners fairly, to respect private property rights and to recognize the vital and historical links that property owners and local residents have to the land. They deny they would attempt to use strong-arm techniques and point, again, to their utilitarian goal of managing forest resources to promote the greatest good, for the greatest number, in the longest run. Despite these reassurances, the examples below demonstrate that many locals perceive this government agency — the Forest Service — as intractable and point to the conflicts that still do occur. A few of the recent conflicts over Michigan’s national forests are described below.
[*] This information is based on telephone interviews conducted by the author with U.S. Forest Service staff on Feb. 15, 2018. For an additional example, please see the discussion documented in “Camp Cook Integrated Resource Public Meeting Minutes” (Nahma Township, Sept. 28, 2016), https://perma.cc/K8CN-DCNY.