By ERIC FREEDMAN
Capital News Service
LANSING – Michigan is lagging far behind states on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts in exploring innovative markets and uses for wood products and wood energy, experts say. And with Michigan’s abundant forestlands, identifying and developing new uses has major implications for the economy and employment across the state, not only in the north. “People think of the Upper Peninsula and Northern Lower Peninsula as Michigan’s woodbasket, but there are a heck of a lot of trees that grow south of Clare, and a lot of them are dead or dying,” said Warren Suchovski, a logger and forestland owner in Stephenson, Menominee County. About 55 percent of the state is covered by forests, and forestry is the state’s third-largest manufacturing sector, according to MSU Extension. It says forests support about 136,000 jobs in the state and add $17 billion to its economy.