Resources and Reports

Dunbar Forest units

Dunbar Forest has been a part of the university's research forest system since 1925. It is part of the AgBioResearch, administered by the Department of Forestry, and managed from the Forest Biomass Innovation Center (FBIC) in Escanaba, Mich. Dunbar Forest is divided into two broad areas: 

The "mainland area" (about 2,600 acres)

Soil types:

  • Fine sands (66%)
  • Sandy loams
  • Clay loams
  • Organic mucks

Forest types

  • Aspen (22%)
  • Lowland hardwoods (10%)
  • Upland hardwoods (7%)
  • Lowland conifers (13%)
  • Plantations and open areas (9%)
  • Alder brush (34%)

The "Neebish Island area" (about 2,800 acres)

Soil types:

  • Loams (56%)
  • Fine sands (44%)

Forest types

  • Upland hardwoods (25%)
  • Aspen (63%)
  • Lowland and open (12%)
  • Lowland confifers (13%)

MSU has begun a major effort to bring the forests it owns on Neebish Island under sound management. The forests there have been essentially unmanaged since the indiscriminate logging done at the beginning of the 20th century. Until recently, it has not been financially possible to conduct science-based forestry on the island. We have an opportunity now to improve the productivity of the forest stands on the island in all respects.

Research plots have been established and maintained at Dunbar Forest for more than 70 years. This continuity offers a unique database and is a resource from which new research can arise. A program of pruning and thinning in conifer plantations was recently begun to ensure healthy and vigorous stands for the next 20 years.

This brochure provides a summary of the forest improvements that are under way on Neebish Island.


Dunbar Forest Physical Plant

The Dunbar Forest physical plant is made up of several buildings including

  • A lodging facility that can house up to six people
  • An old barn (now empty)
  • A pole barn with heated storage and work rooms
  • Two single-family residences

Arrangements to use Dunbar Forest must be made well in advance by contacting the Escanaba office of the FBIC.