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FOREST MANAGEMENT GUIDELINES FOR MICHIGAN
Special Management Considerations
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Scenic and Recreation Values
Maintaining or improving the scenic quality of the forest is often an important objective for private forest owners, particularly near roads. A variety of scenic management objectives may be accommodated by modifying activities prescribed in special areas within the overall ownership. Special recreation management objectives may also be incorporated with scenic management efforts in forest management plans.
Although private forest management programs are rarely intended to provide for the full range of recreational uses that are present in a public forest, private forest owners often wish to incorporate hunting and hiking opportunities and, occasionally, camping or picnicking. Forest owners who wish to make special efforts to promote scenic or recreational objectives should consider the following suggestions in consultation with a professional forester.
Special Natural and Cultural Resources
Forests are more than just places where trees grow; they are places with many characteristics. Sometimes they are places where people live now. Sometimes they are places where people lived 100 or 1,000 or 10,000 years ago. Some forests are places with unusual geology or soils and they are places where rare plant communities or rare animals may live. Forest owners whose property contains special natural and cultural resources may have a legal responsibility to protect and preserve them.
Archaeological sites contain physical remains of almost 15,000 years of human occupation in the state. Written records cover only about two percent of our history. The rest must be gleaned from oral history and physical traces left by Michigan's earlier inhabitants. Cultural resources provide us with a link to understanding our own past, whether they are historic sites of old logging camps and homesteads, or prehistoric sites which remind us that, for centuries, people have been choosing the same places to live, work, and play. These sites contain important, irreplaceable information and sometimes artifacts of prior human activity and cultures.
Michigan’s forests are also home to a wide variety of plants and animals, some of which are rare or threatened by human activities. For example, if a forest is home to the endangered smallmouth salamander, the threatened bald eagle, or one of the rare moonworts; a forest owner may want to take these habitat needs under consideration when developing a management plan. Rare plants and animals are often restricted to certain microhabitats: the salamander, a vernal pool; the eagle, a large white pine near a lake; the moonwort, a sandy dune area. The significance of a particular kind of community in providing a species niche should not be overlooked when developing management plans. This often involves looking beyond a single property or stand of trees to a wider landscape level. It involves considering the actions of many forest owners, providing wildlife corridors, migratory stopovers, various sizes of forest patches, and the impact of invasive species on native communities. Forest owners and managers should be aware of cumulative impacts on rare species and communities. Individually, the loss may seem small, but over time and throughout its range, small losses of a species or community can add up to a significant impact.
Soil disturbing activities, such as the use of heavy equipment to cut trees and brush, build roads, and pull out stumps should be avoided in suspected sensitive areas until consultation is made with individuals trained in recognizing the special characteristics associated with special natural or archaeological sites. Forest owners and managers who may have special natural resources are encouraged to contact the Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) to discuss their resources and management options. The mission of the MNFI is to deliver the highest quality information that contributes to the conservation of biodiversity, especially rare and declining plants and animals, and the diversity of ecosystems native to Michigan. Forest owners with potential archeological resources may also wish to contact the Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA). The OSA records, investigates, interprets, and protects Michigan's archaeological sites.
Legal responsibility for special natural resources can be found in both the Federal Endangered Species Act and the Michigan Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (Public Act 451).
Michigan SAF Home Page
This website is maintained by Bill Cook, Michigan State University Extension Forest in the Upper Peninsula. Comments, questions, and suggestions are gratefully accepted.
Last update of this page was 9 January, 2014
This site is hosted by School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science at Michigan Technological University.