Enjoy the Michigan forestry auto tour

Foresters groups aims to raise awarness of the diversity, importance of state's forests.

 You may have wondered about white and green numbered signs along the highways of the Upper Peninsula. They indicate particular forest types.

The Michigan Society of American Foresters (MSAF) has prepared an informational brochure that describes 12 distinct forest types, or forest conditions. The forests are found through the 8.7 million-acre U.P. forest area. Watch for the sign posts with the numbered SAF shields. There are 121 sites labeled on the brochure map with more added on a regular basis.

The brochures are available at certain Michigan visitor centers or can be obtained by writing the MSAF at 6005 J Road, Escanaba, MI 49829.

The highlighted forest types are; 1) aspen, 2) white birch, 3) red pine, 4) white pine, 5) jack pine, 6) northern hardwoods, 7) hemlock, 8) spruce-fir, 9) cedar, 10) grass openings, 11) role of fire, and 12) old growth.

The goal of the brochures is to raise awareness for the diversity and importance of Michigan forests.

Forest industry is a key element in maintaining healthy forests and vibrant economies. It is Michigan’s third largest manufacturing sector. There are about 200 mills and secondary manufacturers in the U.P. alone, many more logging and trucking contractors, and the industry is important to many families, communities and regional businesses.

Forest protection remains a high priority. Wildfire, insects and diseases present both challenges and potential benefits. Invasive exotics are a special problem and have negatively affected elms, oaks, beech, butternut, white pine, ashes and others. Exotics can diminish habitat quality and reduce biodiversity.

Nearly 600 vertebrate species have been identified in Michigan. Most of them use forest habitat for at least part of their life cycle. Habitat management, especially for game species, is one of the principal considerations in many forest management plans and practices.

Forested wetlands provide some of the most interesting and ecologically important vegetation types in Michigan. Some are dominated by broad-leaved trees, some by conifers (especially cedar), and some are mixed. These forests are particularly common in the eastern U.P.

Forest-based recreation is a large enterprise. Activities are numerous and occasionally conflicting. Snowmobiling, hunting, camping, and wildlife observation are among the more popular endeavors. Forests draw millions from both within Michigan and outside the state.

The Tree Farm System has many thousands of acres enrolled in Michigan and is a symbol of quality forest management for a variety of forest-owner goals. These forest lands are now part of a forest certification system, which allows harvested products to be more easily sold to many Michigan mills.

 The Society of American Foresters is the national scientific and educational organization that represents the forestry profession in the United States. The mission is to advance the science, education, technology, and practice of forestry; and to continue the health and use of our essential forest ecosystems. The auto tour is one way in which the Michigan SAF hopes to raise awareness of Michigan’s forest diversity and use.

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