Everyone can help to keep eyes on the forest

Learn how to help protect Michigan forests at the Ingham County Conservation District's Forestry Field Day.

Photo by Michelle Beloskur, Ingham County Conservation District
Photo by Michelle Beloskur, Ingham County Conservation District

According to the USDA Forest Service’s most recent forest inventory, Michigan’s forests continue to grow, both in number and size of trees. Not all native tree species are doing so well, however. Most people have heard about the reduction of ash tree species because of the invasion of emerald ash borer (EAB). This introduced pest is a cautionary tale of how an insect from Asia can gain a foothold in one location (estimated to be the Detroit area) and spread quickly to other locations in the state and across the country. The beetle was able to successfully spread to other areas for a variety of reasons, but two things had a major influence on the spread: a delay in recognizing its initial introduction to the state and its ability to be spread via both nursery stock and firewood. 

There are many other potential pests and diseases that have not reached Michigan’s borders, and the EAB’s story shows the importance of catching new problems early on. The old phrase “nip it in the bud” is especially applicable when it comes to exotic invasive pest or disease introductions. Some of these potential problems have been detected in neighboring states, such as Asian longhorned beetle (Ohio) and thousand cankers disease in walnut (Indiana), according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ (MDNR) 2016 Forest Health Highlights. Others, like hemlock wooly adelgid and oak wilt, have infested pockets of the state. Keeping an eye on the spread of these existing problems can help keep them contained and in check. But it will take more than trained experts to keep a lookout for both new introductions and emerging threats. All residents can play a critical role in identifying these issues, and knowing what to do if anything unusual is detected.

Michigan State University Extension and the Ingham County Conservation District are teaming up to help participants learn about potential and emerging pests and diseases that could threaten Michigan’s forests during the Conservation District’s Forestry Field Day on Tuesday, July 25, at the Ingham County Conservation District in Mason, Michigan. Participants will also have a chance to learn about how they can become an important part of this monitoring process. The field day will include an introduction of Michigan State University Extension’s Eyes on the Forest program, and how anyone can adopt a ‘sentinel tree’ to periodically measure and monitor the tree’s condition using the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN) website. The Conservation District has adopted its own trees through this program, and participants can learn about what to look for in their own back yards.

This half-day event is designed for landowners of all ages and property sizes. Participants will also receive information on forest management planning and the new Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) Forestry Verification system. There will also be a saw mill demonstration and a fun, hands-on activity to learn about backyard bark beetle collection. This event is made possible through a partnership with the Ingham Conservation District, MSU Extension, MDNR, and MAEAP, and with support from local businesses including Tri-County Logging, Darling Forestry and Express Tree Service.

Enjoy learning about these topics and more, while exploring the Conservation District’s beautiful property in Mason by registering online.

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