MARQUETTE – If it takes a community to raise a child, then it could be said it takes multiple groups to raise a tree.
Green Timber Consulting Foresters is marking 15 years of helping private forest landowners through the Forest Stewardship Program, which helps those landowners connect with professional foresters to develop voluntary Forest Stewardship Plans.
For the past 25 years, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Forest Stewardship Program have assisted landowners with managing, protecting and ultimately enjoying their forests.
Funded by the U.S. Forest Service, the program is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
Unlike many other states, MIchigan uses private-sector land managers – not government foresters – to write plans for its 400,000 private forest owners, said Mike Smalligan, DNR Forest Stewardship program manager, in a news release.
“More than 130 professional foresters and wildlife biologists are trained and certified by the DNR to develop simple yet comprehensive Forest Stewardship Plans for landowners,” Smalligan said.
According to the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/dnr, participation in the program is voluntary, and forest owners can obtain information and cost-share assistance throughout the year.
Landowners can find trained and certified FSP writers through the DNR website as well.
Since 1991, almost 5,000 landowners in Michigan have used an FSP to manage their forests.
According to the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts, 57 percent of the state’s forested land base totaling about 11 million acres is owned by family forest owners.
The Pelkie-based Green Timber Consulting Foresters Inc., has been writing FSPs for landowners in the central and western Upper Peninsula since 2001.
Justin Miller, president of Green Timber, said in the last 15 years or so, Green Timber has helped 160 landowners develop their own unique Forest Stewardship Plans to help them manage over 55,000 acres of forest land.
The time needed to develop a plan, he said, varies on the size of the land and the particular plan. Typically it takes a month, but in the case of Dead River Campers Inc., based in Marquette County, it can take up to several months.
“The most important aspect of the plan is to determine what the landowner’s goals and objectives are,” Miller said.
The challenge, then is to develop the plan around those goals and objectives with management recommendations, he said.
Family forest owners often use their FSPs to obtain financial assistance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, enroll in a property tax program, prepare for a timber sale, improve wildlife habitat or join the American Tree Farm System to certify their sustainable forest management.
One of these forest owners is Dead River Campers, Inc., which was created in the mid-1990s to negotiate in the purchase of land around the Dead River Hoist Basin, which spans across Negaunee, Ishpeming and Champion townships.
Almost 400 shareholders belong to DRCI, which protects 7,743 acres of forest and water in the basin. It also owns more than eight miles of frontage along the Dead River and manages the forest land for wildlife habitat, forest products, clean water and regulated water levels for the Upper Peninsula Power Company at the Hoist Dam.
“The Dead River Campers understand that they’ve got a dynamic forest resource and they’re committed to sustainable management of that resource,” Miller said.
Jim Grundstrom, president of the DRCI board, noted Green Timber manages about 2,700 acres of forest land and creates an inventory for the group, which sells timber when the market is appropriate.
“The timber plan goes out for a number of years into the future,” said Grundstrom, who also pointed out Green Timber serves as “timber economists” for DRCI.
He said Green Timber gauges the maturity of the wood, and at the time of the sale makes bid proposals to logging companies on DRCI’s behalf. DRCI then makes the final decision.
“The expertise of Green Timber also includes this understanding of the market…maybe pine is more lucrative than maple,” Grundstrom said.
Green Timber, he said, also acts as a consultant when an area has to be replanted and as an adviser for applying for wildlife habitat grants.
The state and federal governments have opportunities for landowners, Grundstrom said, to attract more deer into the Upper Peninsula.
In its 2015 third quarter newsletter, Dead River Campers News, it was noted in an update on forestry management that under the direction of Green Timber, cutting of trees in Management Unit 2, which is 40 acres near Silver Lake, began in September.
Harju Logging was in charge of the select cutting of the hardwood stand.
“We are well pleased with the way Green Timber is managing the cutting operation as Harju reported that this was the best marking of trees and property lines they have seen,” wrote Bruce Bussone, a member of the DCRI board.
In October the cutting operation moved to Management Unit 1, an area near Clark Creek.
Bussone said in a Wednesday telephone interview the project turned out well, with mostly jack pines clear cut in Management Unit 1 and hardwood harvested in Management Unit 2.
It’s expected that red pine will make up the majority of tree species planted in the area to be reforested, he said.
Bussone said it was easy to work with Green Timber.
“They went through and kept on top of everything,” Bussone said.
Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.