Rural schools, roads, projects lose in sequestration cuts

Capital News Service
LANSING – Michigan is losing $229,491 in federal timber payments this year because of the budget sequestration – money that would otherwise be used for rural roads and schools, environmental work in the state’s three national forests and county wildfire projects. It represents a 5.1 percent cut in what Michigan would normally receive as its share of revenue from timber sales from Ottawa and Hiawatha national forests in the Upper Peninsula and Huron-Manistee National Forest in the northern Lower Peninsula. Combined, they cover about 2.8 million acres. The National Association of Counties and other organizations are trying to persuade the Forest Service to restore the money. What’s known as the Secure Rural Schools Program provides money for communities “where national forestland is located because they’re logging those areas and the counties would see no revenue from that,” said Ben Bodkin, legislative director of the Michigan Association of Counties.

Gypsy moth population plummets, study says

Capital News Service
LANSING — Eating leaves of hardwood trees, the gypsy moth is known as the most devastating insect in the United States. But a recent report about major forest insect and disease conditions by the U.S. Forest Service said the population of gypsy moths decreased dramatically in Michigan last year. According to the report in 2011, 1,047 acres of forest were affected by gypsy moths, an exotic pest from Asia, while 941,981 acres in the state were affected in 2010. Brenda Owen, executive director of the Michigan Association of Timbermen in Newberry, said a lower population contributes to a healthier forest. She also said without efforts to reduce the population, the forest product industry would also be hurt.