PUBLIC FORESTRY ASSISTANCE
Article #125, November 2007
By Bill Cook
where do private forest owners find information about managing their forest?
Well, in some ways information is easier to come by. However, the opportunity
to talk to a live forester during an on-site visit has hit a new low.
If you're reasonably savvy on the Internet, there are many good websites. Landowner associations, government agencies, industries, universities and extension services, and others have much to offer. Try the Michigan Forest Pathways for a clearinghouse [http://miforestpathways.net].
Michigan, finding a forester to walk your property with you has gone from difficult
to worse. Michigan has never had a particularly good or consistent mechanism
to provide forestry services. And now that the Forestry Assistance Program has
been abandoned, we have lost the single largest component of the inadequate
system that was in place. There are only a small handful of service providers
left, most of them now from the forest industry. You may have a good opportunity,
if you live in an area served by these foresters.
the other hand, finding a consulting forester to write a forest management plan
or help with a responsible timber harvest is not too difficult. Consultants
provide valuable services and commercial aspects are probably best handled by
the private sector, although sometimes forest owners fail to see the value in
there are many non-commercial services that government should consider providing.
Michigan at an all-time low in public service forestry, maybe now is a good
time to consider what the public sector ought to provide. Oddly, there seems
little hew and cry from the 350,000 to 400,000 forest owners for this sort of
why should government agencies be prompted to respond?
the strongest argument would be an investment in our collective future. Forests
provide an amazing range of goods and services and, yet, most people wouldn't
rate forestry anywhere near the top of any priority list. Most people have not
thought about forestry assistance. Most people don't think about forests. Yet,
without management, these goods and services will be substantially reduced in
quantity and quality.
the same time, serious threats to our forest resource are growing. Unfortunately,
by the time issues begin to attract attention, the time to effectively address
them will be long past.
half of Michigan's 19 million acre forest is owned by individuals. The other
half is owned by government agencies and corporate groups. With the private
half receiving relatively little attention (and declining), what might result
from this lack of stewardship?
forest-based industry is among Michigan's largest economic drivers and fiber
supply trends are growing increasingly restrictive while consumer use increases.
How, then, might we expand Michigan's bioeconomy from our rich forest resource
when half the acreage is largely ignored?
demands for recreation access grow, the increasing closure on private lands
adds more pressure on public lands. Conflicts arise and pressure to decrease
management activity builds. Visual quality becomes confused with aesthetic value.
health issues, such as the emerald ash borer and beech bark disease, have no
respect for property lines. How can private lands become more resilient when
they aren't managed?
of the private forest resource increasingly supports later successional habitats
as benign neglect leads them down "natural" pathways? Many of our
favorite wildlife species rely on early successional forests.
more people build homes in these forests, the ecology is affected by fragmentation,
loss of biodiversity, and a number of other dynamics. Of course, home construction
is a permanent change. Will our grandchildren view this as a good?
best time to deal with challenges is often by addressing them before they become
problems. Michigan currently ignores 8-9 million acres of forest land. If this
is unwise, then what might be done?
Bill Cook is an MSU Extension forester providing educational programming for the entire Upper Peninsula. His office is located at the MSU Upper Peninsula Tree Improvement Center near Escanaba. The Center is the headquarters for three MSU Forestry properties in the U.P., with a combined area of about 8,000 acres. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 906-786-1575.
by Bill Cook, Forester/Biologist, Michigan State University Extension, 6005
J Road, Escanaba, MI 49829
906-786-1575 (voice), 906-786-9370 (fax), e-mail: email@example.com
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Michigan State University is an affirmative action equal opportunity institution. The U.S. Department of Agriculture prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital status or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.)
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 7 November, 2007
This site is hosted by School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science at Michigan Technological University.