Lansing, Michigan – November 19, 2015 – For the past 25 years, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Forest Stewardship Program – which helps private forest landowners connect with a professional forester to develop a voluntary Forest Stewardship Plan – have helped private landowners manage, protect and enjoy their forests. The program, funded by the U.S. Forest Service, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
“Unlike many other states, Michigan uses private-sector land managers, not government foresters, to write plans for its 400,000 private forest owners,” said Mike Smalligan, DNR Forest Stewardship program coordinator. “More than 130 professional foresters and wildlife biologists are trained and certified by the DNR to develop simple yet comprehensive Forest Stewardship Plans for landowners.
“In the last 25 years, more than 5,400 landowners in Michigan have developed their own unique Forest Stewardship Plans to help them manage over 875,000 acres of forest land.”
Michigan is home to more than 9 million acres of family forest land. Most of the properties in the program are between 40 and 80 acres in size, and all private forest land is eligible.
Michigan family forest owners often use their Forest Stewardship Plans to obtain financial assistance, enroll in a property tax program, prepare for a timber sale, improve wildlife habitat, or join the American Tree Farm System to certify their sustainable forest management.
One example of these forest owners is the Heuvelman family in Newaygo County.
Rick and Kim Heuvelman, along with Rick’s brother Randy, together own a 160-acre forest. The Heuvelmans were interested in the Qualified Forest Program to lower their property taxes, and they knew that they needed a forest management plan to enroll.
“The reduced property taxes are nice, but we really want to be able to pass on a healthy forest to our children and grandchildren,” Rick Heuvelman said. “Wood is a renewable resource and I want to manage it well, even if I don’t see all of the results in my lifetime.
“I enjoyed learning new things about my forest – the plan even mentioned frogs and huckleberries. Having a Forest Stewardship Plan has given me confidence that my forest management, based on professional advice, will achieve my goals for sustainable forestry and better wildlife habitat.”
For more information, call the DNR Forest Stewardship coordinator at 517-284-5884 or visit www.michigan.gov/foreststewardship.
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