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I found this article to be an eye-opener regarding the LACK of timbering that is taking place in Michigan. As most are aware timbering is essential to creating quality whitetail habitat, and landowners in northern Michigan are dropping the ball when it comes to logging their lands.

Harvesting is a helping hand for forest, economy

Bill Cook, Midland Daily News 12/11/2005

Timber harvesting simply is not a high priority among most of Michigan’s family forest owners. Some would argue that it is becoming an even lower priority as time passes. Let’s look at how we know harvesting is a low priority, and then consider whether that’s a road we want to follow.
A huge survey of private forest owners was published in 1994. Yes, that was a long time ago, but the study demonstrated some clear conclusions. Smaller, more recent studies echo similar results.
First, most of Michigan’s 335,000 owners ranked timber harvest low among reasons to own forest. Maybe that’s because almost half the ownerships were under ten acres? Maybe because many of those small parcels are bought-up through urban splatter?
Second, among the fewer owners with large acreages, timber harvest ranked high among priorities. That means most of Michigan’s private forest acreage is owned with a high interest in timber harvest. It seems many reviewers underestimate the potential impact of the "fewest who own the mostest".
The U.S. Forest Service and other agencies keep track of what is harvested and from which ownership the harvest comes from. Among all the ownerships across the upper Lake States, the Michigan family forest category is dead last in terms of timber harvest. That’s a bit surprising, as most of the acres are owned by people who rank harvest as a high priority. Could it be that survey responses don’t necessarily reflect what people actually do?
Michigan families own nearly half of our 19 million acre forest, so the low level of harvest has a profound impact on forest industry. It also has a profound impact on the ecological integrity of the forest and the lifestyles of everyone. Often, that impact is negative, contrary to ownership objectives. "Natural" is not always desirable. But that’s another story.
Michigan has one of the largest timber "surpluses" in the nation. We grow far more wood volume than we harvest. We have been doing so for decades. We’re certainly not running out of forest, trees, or wood volume. So, family forests are not exactly conserving a resource in short supply.
In fact, they are contributing to the shortage of "available" timber by refusing to harvest trees. This places more pressure on public and industrial forest lands. Of course, there are interest groups successfully working to further reduce harvests from public lands. So, public foresters often find themselves between a rock and a hard place. Meanwhile, fiber costs increase and a major Michigan industry declines.
This squeeze has profound economic impacts, especially in our rural areas. Fiber costs in the Lake States are among the highest in the world. This makes doing business all the more difficult for loggers and mills. The American Forest & Paper Association identified fiber costs as the single most important factor in global competitiveness. Losing jobs and industries in these times of austerity, especially in rural areas, is not something we can afford. And yet, Michigan mills continue to close.
Keep in mind the decline of the industrial infrastructure translates into fewer management choices in the forest. Less management will generate an entire suite of economic, social, and environmental challenges for our children and grandchildren. The massive wildfires in the western states highlight that lesson. Insect and disease epidemics are more likely here in the north, especially from exotic species. But, that too, is another story.
Only 10-15 percent of family forests employ the services of a professional forester, according to the folks who work in the area of private forest assistance. That percentage is a lot lower than in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
You would think a person with timber, potentially worth tens of thousands of dollars, would seek expert advice. Don’t most people seek professional advice when managing other huge assets, such as retirement accounts and investment portfolios? And, what about all the non-timber values? Most forest owners are not foresters or ecologists. Paying for services would be a good investment.
In the absence of professional expertise, it’s not too surprising when misunderstandings occur between loggers and forest owners. The majority of loggers are highly-trained, honest, and hard-working businessmen. Of course, there remains a smaller group of predatory loggers that take advantage of the ignorance of forest owners. The unethical practices of these few loggers increase forest owner reluctance to harvest and generate more than its fair share of bad press.
It’s also not too surprising when lack of management leads to forest changes the owner did not intend. Wildlife habitat will change, often unfavorably. I hear this all the time in relation to deer. Beech bark disease and emerald ash borer wreak havoc. Buildings in mature jack pine plains and balsam fir stands are at high fire risk.
There are many, many good reasons to plan for and harvest timber. There aren't many good reasons to maintain private reserves, especially when nature often pushes the forest in unexpected and unpleasant directions. Forest management and timber harvest are part of the solution to a wide range of environmental, social, and economic challenges. They are not part of the problem.
Bill Cook is an MSU Extension forester who provides 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.


©Midland Daily News 2005
 

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Yup. We discussed this earlier when I tried to get as many hunters as possible to give their input to the USFS when they developed their long term timber strategy last year. I believe those policies will be in place for the next decade of so. To be honest, I don't think many hunters gave their input. I did. My input was to cut as much as possible and to clear cut as much aspen as possible, while it's still alive and able to regen.
 

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Yup. We discussed this earlier when I tried to get as many hunters as possible to give their input to the USFS when they developed their long term timber strategy last year. I believe those policies will be in place for the next decade of so. To be honest, I don't think many hunters gave their input. I did. My input was to cut as much as possible and to clear cut as much aspen as possible, while it's still alive and able to regen.

That is a solid plan!

How did the USFS respond to your comments Bob?
 

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I asked them to cut some of the damn pine rows that go for miles and miles near us. I would like to see some cutting of the mature areas around because there is very little growth near the ground due to the sunlight being blocked out. I was reading some of the pine stands management article in the QW last night and thought what a great opportunity for the USFW and the state to creat habitat and forage and still create revenue through the timber management. But I think it is wishful thinking.

AW
 

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Not only is the forest getting older...but we are losing diversity as well. Our deer numbers in the U.P. continue to shrink, habitat is getting older and less diverse, so instead of improving habitat and increasing deer numbers, we have lowered deer density goals, especially in the NW U.P. and basically ignored habitat. We now have funds to purchase deer yards, and that is very important, but we need to manage them as well.

I would have liked to have hunted around here before the pine plantations. I get to hear stories about woods full of diversity, no baiting, and numerous tent camps, but I'm about 30 years too late. Oh well, better to never have and not to lose, than to have all and lose it.

I don't know what the answer is, but to echo John Ozoga it would be nice to see a Northern MI and U.P. deer yard coordinator...possibly a DNR position, who's main job was work with state, fed, corporate, and even private land holders to organize and maintain winter habitat. In most areas of the U.P. we have several times more summer habitat than the deer need so that is not limiting deer numbers or potential, but our winter habitat is in trouble and it doesn't appear we are trying to do much about it.
 

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Jeff,
I never hunted in Luce County, but firends of my parents had a cabin north of Newberry and deer hunted back in the 50s-60s. We used the cabin as a base for steelhead fishing in the Big Two-Hearted R. From about '58-68we used to see deer up there every spring, with many sets of tracks crossing every sand road in the whole area.

The deer hunting was decent until about 1968 when the bottom fell out. Today that area has hardly a deer in it. Habitat...Habitat...Habitat
 

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I like the deer yard manager idea. Especially to start taking a look at cedar swamps (Carp, Pine, Whiskey, the Snows for example) Don't see too many deer hanging around these 100+ year old cedar growths. You know, the kind where each tree is good for 1/2 a log home. Real pretty but don't hold squat.

Even scarier, I don't see any new cedar growth either.
 

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There has been some successful strip cutting of cedar yards where cutting was continued on an annual basis which allows for open areas of regenerating cedar to grow with little to no competition. But, it needs to be coordinated and consistant to be successful....you can't start and stop 10 years later. If you can get Deer and Deer Hunting John Ozoga has a GREAT cedar regeneration article coming out in the March issue..not sure if it's in the newstands yet but it is outstanding and basically goes through the process and history of deer yard regeneration...basically a must read for anyone even remotely interested in saving and preserving the quality and future of our U.P. deer yards, not to mention our U.P. deer population. We can stand for our summer ranges to become older (not that it should...just it wouldn't hurt that much)...but not our winter habitat.
 

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I was told at a recent USFS planning meeting (remember who I work for, gets us a seat at the table) that cedar regrowth is an incredibly hard process. I'm not really clear, but I recall it had something to do with various attempts made in the Moran - Carp area. Unwanted species would take over from the get go and the cedar, without help would not grab hold for some number of years.

Sound familar at all? Or no?
 

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There are areas that do not regenerate for reasons sometimes you can't even predict..ph changes, moisture, etc. It is a challenge, but basically John O. refers to our current yards as "green barns", with a lot of green on the outside, but no food on the inside. By completing strip cuttings and rotating on a several decade cycle you can at least offer browse and food adjacent to those green barns at varying stages of growth...including yearly cutting leftovers so the deer have increased food supplies while maintaining conifer snow hinderance and thermal cover.

There has been areas of cedar regeration using these practices, including the Petrol grade deer yard in Shingleton but the practice was stopped. Right now the yards offer little food, and are more used for shelter. If we look at it that way, and manage the yards, we can attempt to get regeneration to take place, improve the overall practice of doing so, while at the same time increasing food supply.

You'll have to read that article...it can be done!
 

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i agree and have been trying for 3 years now to get "northern timberlands" to fulfill their contract and start cutting.david smith the dnr habitat biologist in my area looked at the plan and said that it was good,just said to be careful when it comes to the cedar as they are hard to regenerate.
 

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NorthJeffI don't know what the answer is, but to echo John Ozoga it would be nice to see a Northern MI and U.P. deer yard coordinator...possibly a DNR position, who's main job was work with state, fed, corporate, and even private land holders to organize and maintain winter habitat. In most areas of the U.P. we have several times more summer habitat than the deer need so that is not limiting deer numbers or potential, but our winter habitat is in trouble and it doesn't appear we are trying to do much about it.

Amen!
I'm sure the DPSM objectives in my area are currently limited due to the limited winter habitat and I would like to see an increase in DPSM in my area (NLP)... We have plenty of summer browse that will easily support a larger herd...
 

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I agree. The state as a whole needs to keep a better hand on land management. It will benefit the whole state . I just had my land select cut last winter and i am seein positive results already
 

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Here's what's different nowadays, ulrich, vs. pre-settlement times: We humans no longer tolerate massive, uncontrolled wildfires. Ma nature used to manage forests all by her own self, by conducting periodic "burns" which would torch areas the size of half our state. Now, with highways, parking lots, firebreaks of all kinds, and the ability to fight fires, that no longer happens.

As a result, unless we actively "manage" our forests, they will tend to become old growth monocultures.
 

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When i bought my 35 acres 3yrs ago. the last thing i thught about was harvesting any timber. then i joined this site learned how beneficial timber harvesting is. now my timber is out for bid. even got the name of a forester to use off of this site. so keep chatting and posting it does help.
 
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