Clearing trees to save forests

Capital News Service

LANSING — Foresters in Michigan and throughout the Great Lakes region are destroying mighty oaks and other trees to regrow hardwood forests. That may seem counterproductive, but forestry officials say oaks need special attention to maintain a diverse and healthy forest system. That means cutting down decades-old trees, clearing shrubs and sometimes burning the forest floor to encourage new oaks to grow. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently launched a multi-year effort to reforest between 2,000 and 2,500 acres in Kalkaska County. The state land has mature oaks that block oak seedlings from taking root.

Private land finds home in Qualified Forest Program

Capital News Service
LANSING — A state program that more than tripled the private land managed for forestry in just three years earns unusual praise from both forest products producers and environmentalists. If there is one thing the two groups agree on, it’s that both of their preferred uses “are better than subdivisions,” said Marvin Roberson, a forest ecologist with the Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club. “If you got 160 acres and your only choice is to sell to a subdivision because you can’t afford the taxes, this keeps it in forested land.”
The Qualified Forest Program gives tax breaks to landowners who agree to manage their forests under a plan developed by a state-certified forester. The plans help them harvest their land sustainably, but they also can consider how to better provide for wildlife or keep invasive species from overtaking the land. Industry officials agree it’s been a success.

Report raises concerns about well-being of forests

Capital News Service
LANSING – The recently released Department of Natural Resources (DNR) 2015 forest health report has some forestry experts worried about the state’s future ecological well-being. “The most concerning thing to me is how many of the diseases and insects are spreading,” said Tara Bal, a forestry expert and research assistant professor at Michigan Technological University’s School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science. Pests such as the invasive hemlock wooly adelgid bug and the spruce budworm, combined with the warming climate, threaten several tree and animal species, some experts warn. Among the most worrisome are hemlock wooly adelgid bug infestations, which have attacked hemlocks in five additional counties in the past five years, according to the department’s report. “There are new counties added every year to the report,” Bal said.

Michigan damage so great that Forest Service stops counting ash killed by borer

Capital News Service
LANSING – The threat from a metallic green beetle is still spreading quickly throughout the ash of the Great Lakes region, despite a recent national report that said fewer trees died in 2011 from harmful insects in the United States than previous years. The region’s drought can also seal the fate of sick and dying trees, the U.S. Forest Service reported. Many ash already are dropping leaves or changing color earlier this year than usual – both mechanisms that trees use to cope with drought, said Deborah McCullough, a forest entomologist at Michigan State University. “It’s possible some insect populations could increase next summer as a result of this year’s drought, but that is just really hard to predict,” she said. It doesn’t seem like emerald ash borers will be leaving the region any time soon, experts say.

Wildlife moves north, south, as climate warms, forest regrow

Capital News Service
LANSING – Bears, porcupines, bobcats and pileated woodpeckers are moving their homes far to the south, while small mammals like mice, squirrels, chipmunks and opossums are moving north, according to the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy. This mutual shift in wildlife distributions and densities – together with an exploding population of certain species – is becoming evident in many locations across the state. John Niewoonder, a Department of Natural Resources(DNR) state wildlife biologist based in Grand Rapids, said the best example is the black bear. “Black bears are rare, even seven years ago in Grand Rapids. Usually they appear in the Upper North, but this year we see them outside the city.”

“People saw bears a couple of years ago in the Lansing area.