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Article #5, November 1997
By Bill Cook

Most folks can get excited about managing forests.  We live in the U.P. and we do a lot of things in and around forests.  Reasons for owning forest vary widely, including such objectives as hunting, timber revenue, family activities, protection of special species, and just because it’s a good thing to do.  However, forests are complex natural systems and professional advice can go a long way in making sure objectives are met. 

There are many examples of well-meaning intentions that go awry because landowners did the wrong thing at the wrong time.  Perhaps, the timber sale was not set up correctly for the existing forest type.  Or, the landowner learns that their timber was actually worth twice what was paid.  I’ve learned of people desiring to maintain a certain quality of their forest, only to watch it slip away before their eyes because inaction resulted in nature running its course in a direction they did not anticipate.  So, what’s a person to do?

Answer:  call a forester.  Like all things of importance and value, seek professional advice.  Who do you call?  That depends on what you want.  Try some free advice first.  Start with the phone book.

Call the State DNR Forest Management Division.  There are three foresters in the U.P. assigned specifically to assist private forest owners.  But be patient.  The DNR is adjusting to major staff reductions, temporary reassignments, and reduced funding. 

Four U.P. County Conservation Districts (CD) have foresters, Alger-Marquette, Delta-Menominee, Iron-Dickinson-Gogebic, and Schoolcraft-Luce-West Mackinac.  Districts go by various names, such as Soil and Water Conservation District or Soil Conservation District.  These foresters provide on-the-ground services, but are very busy because they are so few.

The U.S. Farm Service Agency (formerly Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service) can provide information about services and cost-share programs, such as EQIP and WHIP.  Air photos can be purchased from the Agency. 

Michigan State University Extension offers educational programs on many aspects of forests and forest management and can provide access to bulletins and other literature.  County offices are good at getting answers to your questions.

Public agencies can assist with writing stewardship plans, lending advice, or sorting through various and ever-changing cost-share programs, but they generally do not set up and administer timber sales.  For this kind of help, work with a consulting or industrial forester.  Consulting foresters can sometimes be found in the yellow pages or names can be obtained from the public agencies.  Mead Papers has an excellent landowner assistance program that offers a comprehensive range of services.

There are a few private organizations that can help.  The Michigan Forest Association has a regular newsletter, field days, and workshops.  The Tree Farm Program offers technical assistance and educational materials.  If you’re on the Internet, there’s more information that can be easily sorted through.  Try the Michigan Society of American Foresters web site (http://forestry.msu.edu/msaf).  Click on “forestry links” and you’ll find lots of connections.  Happy hunting.

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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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