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Preserving Fisherman's Island State Park

Neighbors in Charlevoix County and across northern Michigan know that Fisherman’s Island State Park (FISP) is a recreational and scenic treasure. Rustic, peaceful and beautiful, the 2,678-acre park attracts about 30,300 visitors a year for rustic camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, beach exploration, wading, mountain biking, and other activities. The park, which generates about $94,000 a year in direct revenue (MDNR, 2014), features:

  • 81 rustic campsites,
  • 3.4 miles of foot trails for hiking and cross-country skiing,
  • 6 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline,
  • A day-use picnic area,
  • Three creeks (Whiskey, McGeach, and Inwood) designated as trout streams,
  • The largest state-owned hunting ground on the west end of Charlevoix County (home to deer, grouse, coyote, squirrels, rabbit, and several other game species)

On May 18, 2016, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) approved a General Management Plan (GMP) for FISP. The GMP is the product of a multi-year planning process that included exhaustive work by MDNR staff and input from many stakeholders, including the general public, park visitors, and various constituent organizations.

“Overall, this Plan seeks to uphold the (MDNR’s) Parks and Recreation Division’s Mission Statement: to acquire, protect and preserve the natural and cultural features of Michigan’s unique resources, and to provide access to land and water based on public recreation and education opportunities.”
– Michigan Department of Natural Resources General Management Plan for Fisherman’s Island State Park, 2016

Essentially, the GMP presents a list of goals that provide guidance and a foundation for the future management of FISP, including possible future improvements and changes and recommendations for preserving and protecting its rustic character and beauty. Some of the “10-Year Action Goals” and the “General Action Goals” presented in the GMP for FISP include:

  • Working with stakeholders to improve trail connectivity between FISP, other trail networks, and local communities.
  • Evaluating a proposal to route part of the non-motorized linear trail from Charlevoix to Traverse City through FISP.
  • Maintaining, improving, and expanding recreation opportunities (hunting, fishing, gathering, trapping, birding) while protecting the natural and cultural resources and rustic nature of the park.
  • Improving invasive species monitoring and controls.
  • Reviewing proposed ground-disturbing activities for potential impact on historic/cultural resources.
  • Conducting a Phase 1 archeological survey of the park and evaluating the condition and extent of known archeological sites.
  • Resolving ownership and public access rights at the south end of the park.
  • Evaluating and making recommendations related to existing motor vehicle access and parking at the south end of the park.
  • Exploring strategic land acquisition within the park’s project boundaries.
  • Evaluating and making recommendations for trail crossings over Whiskey and Inwood Creeks.
  • Focusing on controlling illegal motor vehicle use in the park.
  • Evaluating the need for land use order to control snowmobile use.
  • Evaluating alternative lodging in the park (more campsites or hike-in campsites, yurts, camper cabins, etc.).
  • Studying the potential for accessible campsites.
  • Conducting a study to identify ways to repair draining and driving surface deficiencies on park roads.
  • Evaluating the need for a designated beach area.
  • Evaluating the demand for and feasibility of a dump and fill station.
  • Exploring options for electronic/communication connectivity.
  • Providing a septic system and water for the park campground office.
  • Building an equipment and storage building.
  • Providing modern bathroom/shower facilities for campers in the Administrative Zone.

St. Marys looks forward to being a partner in protecting and preserving the rustic character and beauty of Fisherman’s Island State Park. We see this as an opportunity to have a public discussion about our community’s future and the relationship between FISP and the plant for decades to come.

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