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Article #1, July 1997
By Bill Cook

            Sometimes we need to be reminded of the obvious, at least I do.  One of those things is the many benefits of managing forests for timber production.  To some, this is almost a politically incorrect statement, which is unfortunate.  Timber production is a good thing.  Managing a forest to generate revenue, together with many other objectives, is a good thing.  For the landowner, timber management can also be fun and quite rewarding.  Over the last decade or two, non-timber forest values have taken center stage, sometimes masking the significance of timber production.  While the forest does, indeed, have multiple values, we had better not forget the importance of timber.  Forest management can provide both economic benefits and environmental enhancement.  It is also an exciting opportunity to build something for the future and reap the rewards of ďjust doing the right thing.Ē

            The Upper Peninsula of Michigan has been growing economically important and ecologically healthy forests for a long time.  Foresters know how to manage forests and grow timber in a sustainable manner.  Concerns about habitat conditions, landscape diversity, and environmental issues heighten the role of forest management.  Itís sort of like baking your cake and eating it, too!  Keep in mind that the idea of forest management was born early in this century as a public and governmental reaction to uncontrolled logging.  Forest management rises to meet new challenges as more information becomes available and social acceptance changes.  This is a good thing.

            If youíre concerned about global forests, consider acting locally and support forest management efforts.  The demand for wood products has increased steadily for decades, both in the United States and globally.  Demand has grown faster than population growth.  This trend is expected to continue or increase.  The wood supply will come from somewhere.  Michigan forests are in an excellent position to increase a sustainable level of wood production while maintaining ecological integrity.  Not all places on earth can boast this combination.  The more wood we can safely produce here, the less pressure there will be on forests growing under less advantageous conditions.  In other words, if youíre interested in the tropical rainforest, then produce some timber in the safety of your own land.

            A healthy economy can support environmental protection.  Desperate economies rarely consider ďecologicalĒ values, even though they acknowledge their long-term benefit.  Having a quality and diverse work force utilizing the forest base in a sound manner is a good thing.  Forests of the Upper Peninsula are the mainstay of our economic engine.  Without that engine, ecological protection will most likely erode.  About 700 loggers, truckers, mills, and wood manufacturers work in the UP with a multi-million dollar impact.  Foresters, and others, work hard to manage forests in a wise way.  Sometimes, folks forget that itís okay to develop a sustainable economic base. 

You canít travel the highways of the UP without seeing either a trucker hauling logs or a wood-using mill of some sort.  Try viewing these sights as the bulwark of our economy and the infrastructure that supports and maintains an important segment of the global economy.  At the same time, notice the miles of beautiful forest and clean waters.  With a little thought, itís pretty easy to connect a healthy environment, good forest management, and sound forest industry.  Sometimes, this connection is not evident in the field, a situation that occasionally leads to misunderstanding.  In these days where most people are not directly connected to the land, itís good to know we still have a viable economy closely tied to Mother Earth.  Itís something we can all enjoy, especially those who own a piece of managed forest.

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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 cookwi@msu.edu or 906-786-1575.

Prepared 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:  cookwi@msu.edu

Use / reprinting of these articles is encouraged. Please notify Bill Cook.
By-line should read "Bill Cook, MSU Extension" Please use the article trailer whenever possible.

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