Forestry industry in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula

Sound forest management practices lead to increased forest tree volume, and substantial contributions to the economy in the northern Lower Peninsula.

Have you ever driven by a recently logged woodlot and wondered how long it will be until there aren’t any forests left in Michigan? That was a problem in the logging era of the late 1800s and early 1900s. During the conservation era of 1900-1940, the Civilian Conservation Corp replanted many acres throughout the state. Sound forest management practices since that time have led to 2016 Michigan statistics that show forests in Michigan, including both public and private ownership, now typically grow about two times as much wood as we harvest each year, measured in cubic feet. You can find more on the history of Michigan’s forests in Michigan Forests Forever, Forest Basics, Michigan’s Forest History.

Julie Crick, MSU Extension Natural Resources Educator, recently spoke to the Northern Michigan Counties Association about the forests in northern Michigan. The Forest Stewardship Council and Sustainable Forestry Initiative have certified over 3.9 million acres in Michigan since 2005. Certification provides third party review of forest practices to ensure they meet environmental, social and economic standards through annual audits and periodic re-certification audits. Most forest products mills currently require certified lumber to meet the demands of buyers from around the globe.

Sustainable forest management helps to provide for regeneration of trees, improved habitat for many wildlife species, maintains forest health and lowers the cost of raw materials.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) asks for public comment on management practices two years ahead. The Forest Unit Management Map can connect you to forestry activities planned across the northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula. The State of Michigan also provides assistance to private landowners through grant funded foresters housed in conservation districts to learn about forest management, and to find foresters and loggers in their area.

Michigan’s forest products industry has a significant impact on the state’s economy, totaling over $20 billion annually and providing more than 38,000 jobs to Michigan citizens. The largest numbers of direct jobs are in wood furniture at 9,943 and paper and paperboard products at 8,084. Additional information on species used and products produced by Michigan’s wood industry can be found here on the MDNR website.

Michigan State University Extension provides, through the Government and Public Policy Team and the Center for Local Government Finance and Policy, educational programs for local government officials and citizens regarding many aspects of local and tribal governments in Michigan. Please contact the author at for more information.

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