(Munising, MI) – Hiawatha National Forest announced a new public-private partnership focused on delivery of visitor information in Munising. On Thursday, February 22, 2018, Forest Supervisor Cid Morgan and John Madigan, General Manager for Pictured Rocks Cruises, Inc. (PRC) signed a Challenge Cost Share Agreement that will allow Forest Service and partner staff to deliver information about national forest recreation opportunities at the Pictured Rocks Information Center in downtown Munising.

“We are excited by this innovative partnership approach to customer service delivery,” said Morgan.

Both partners have a shared interest in providing the public with information about natural resources and recreation opportunities on the Forest, as well as supporting the Forest’s interpretive programming and seasonal internships. The new arrangement will bring Forest Service representatives and Hiawatha Interpretive Association interpretive products into the PRC operation.

The details of the agency’s shift to the Pictured Rocks Interpretive Center are still being finalized, but Forest Service officials anticipate that beginning this spring most Hiawatha National Forest tourists will be served at Pictured Rocks Interpretive Center, 100 W. Munising Avenue, Munising. More details about summer hours and services will be announced in the future.

The new arrangement will allow the Forest to experiment with providing public lands visitor service in partnership with a private entity and will help accommodate the increased demand for visitor services.

“As a result of increased tourism, we have outgrown the current Munising Interagency Visitor Center facility – everything from parking to restrooms to service space has been overwhelmed,” stated Charles Marsh, Munising District Ranger, Hiawatha National Forest.

Hiawatha’s Munising Ranger District office will continue to house Forest Service staff and will remain open for official business, supporting certain customer transactions such as firewood permits. The agency will announce further details such as hours and phone number as they become available. At this time, Hiawatha National Forest visitors will continue to be served at the existing 400 East Munising Avenue location through approximately April 30, 2018. The Forest’s current winter office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Customers can reach Hiawatha National Forest staff by calling (906) 387-2512.

For more information about this partnership, contact Munising District Ranger Charles Marsh (906) 387-2512. To learn more about the Forest, visit the website at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/hiawatha.