Saturday, July 25, 2015

Public invited to comment on Isle Royale Moose-Wolf-Vegetation Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement

Isle Royale wolves trek through the snow. Michigan Tech University researchers reported in their April 2015 report on their annual Winter Study of Isle Royale wolves and moose that only three wolves appeared to remain on Isle Royale. (File photo © and courtesy John Vucetich. Reprinted with permission.)*

HOUGHTON -- The National Park Service (NPS) has published a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register announcing that the agency is preparing a Moose-Wolf-Vegetation Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (plan/EIS) for Isle Royale National Park. The plan will provide direction for managing the Isle Royale moose and wolf populations for at least the next 20 years in light of the dynamic changes occurring on the island.

Superintendent Phyllis Green encouraged the public to engage early in the process and to visit the plan’s web page for more information and to provide written comments.

Superintendent Green said, "I have received a wide range of comments from folks interested in this issue, and the range of preliminary alternative concepts reflect the broad opinions that have been expressed to me. I look forward to reading your comments once they are submitted through our formal process."

The public is also invited to attend one of the public open houses listed below. All open houses will have the same format and agenda and will run from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. each night. The open houses will begin with a brief presentation followed by an open period when NPS staff will be available to answer questions. Attendees will be able to submit written comments at the public open houses. If you are unable to attend a meeting, please submit your comments online or mail or hand deliver written comments to Isle Royale National Park, 800 E. Lakeshore Dr., Houghton, MI 49931

Dates for the Open Houses:

Monday, July 27 -- Houghton, Mich. -- Superior Room inside the Magnuson Hotel Franklin Square Inn

Tuesday, July 28 -- Isle Royale National Park -- Rock Harbor Auditorium

Wednesday, July 29 -- Grand Portage, Minn. -- Grand Portage National Monument Visitor Center

Thursday, July 30 -- Isle Royale National Park -- Windigo Visitor Center

The moose-wolf-vegetation food web is tightly coupled. Moose have important effects on island vegetation, including forest cover, and wolves are the only moose predator on the island. Given that the wolf population at Isle Royale is very low and their long-term survival on the island is in question, the moose population is likely to increase in the short term (5-10 years), which could result in impacts to vegetation and forest cover because of over-browsing.**

As part of the planning process, various alternatives for the management of moose, wolves, and vegetation at Isle Royale will be evaluated. Preliminary draft alternative concepts have been included in a public scoping newsletter, which is available at The public comment period will close on August 29, 2015.

Following the public comment period, the NPS will analyze and consider all feedback received and begin the preparation of the draft plan/EIS. The public will have an opportunity to comment on the draft plan/EIS.

Editor's Notes:

* See the April 17, 2015, article, "Down to Three Wolves on Isle Royale," by Allison Mills, on the Michigan Tech News.  
** See the May 29, 2015, Detroit Free Press article, "Senators call for action to save Isle Royale wolves," by Todd Spangler.

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