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Michigan Forest and Forestry Information
Article #164, November 2010
By Bill Cook

     With about 440,000 Michigan forest owners, sources of information about forest ecology and forest management are important.  And besides the owner-managers, there are millions of state residents that recreate in our forests, as well as the dependency of every resident on wood products. 

     Four informative websites come immediately to mind.  Michigan Forests Forever [http://mff.dsisd.net] is designed for school teachers but the information is equally useful to nearly everyone.  Michigan forests and forest management options are explained. 

     The U.P. Tree Identification website [http://uptreeid.com] has been around for over a decade and has been used by hundreds of thousands of people, especially classrooms requiring fall leaf collections.  It will soon have a forest health and tree pest module added. 

     The Michigan Forest Association (MFA) is the third source of valuable forest information [www.michiganforests.com].  The MFA serves forest owners and acts as an advocate to the extent that the volunteer organization is able.  It’s an excellent outfit for forest owners looking for folks in the same boat. 

     Lastly, the Michigan Society of American Foresters (MSAF) has a site with a collection of potentially helpful information, although some of it is a bit dated [http://michigansaf.org].  The MSAF is a professional organization of foresters.  They have recently updated their Forest Management Guidelines for Michigan, which is a great asset.  They’re also the folks who bring you the U.P. Auto Tour. 

     If you’re interested in calendars of forestry related events, the MSAF has one, as well as the Michigan Forest Pathways website [http://miforestpathways.net]. 

     There is also a very wide range of organizations that offer assistance in various parts of the State.  Conservation Districts sometimes have forestry expertise at their disposal.  The USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) has begun to administer a number of 2008 Farm Bill programs intended to benefit forest owners.  MSU Extension has an office in nearly every county and those staff have access to forestry information and resources.  The Michigan Forest Pathways website has a list of most of these organizations and programs.

     All of these web resources are great for doing some homework, which is important if you’re a forest owner.  However, if you’re looking for specific professional expertise, someone to come and visit your property, consider hiring a forestry consultant.  Many foresters will provide a first-time visit at no charge.  Picking a forester is much like picking any other professional.  Find someone that you like and trust, and seems to know their “stuff”.  Ask for referrals. 

     Keep in mind that you’ll probably want a forester with a four-year degree from an accredited university program, along with at least a few years experience in your area.  MSU Extension maintains a self-indentifying directory of consulting foresters that work in Michigan [http://forestry.msu.edu/extension/extdocs/consulfor/consult.htm].  The Association of Consulting Foresters [http://www.acf-foresters.org] also has a Michigan Chapter. 

     The first project is often the preparation of a professional forest management plan.  Such a plan is the key to charting the future of your forest, and to have eligibility for nearly all cost-share and tax abatement programs.  The cost of a plan for many properties runs in the several hundred dollar range, but much depends upon the particular property.  There’s even a cost-share program to help pay for a plan.  Information can be found on the DNRE website.  The URL is long, so try browsing for “Michigan Forest Stewardship Program”. 

     If you’re simply thinking about a timber harvest, some caution is warranted.  Again, hiring a forester nearly always pays more and serves to protect your interests.  The MSAF home page has a link for those thinking of a timber sale.  Of course, besides all the usual concerns, don’t forget the federal income tax implications. 

     If you don’t use the Internet, you can still find information the old-fashioned way.  Call public agency offices.  Look in the phone book.  Talk to friends and neighbors.  In any case, a well-planned forest will yield many more dividends than if you do nothing. 

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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 Forest Biomass Innovation 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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