Beaver Island is blessed with thou-sands of acres of beautiful hard-wood forests. Much of that area is public land, but a significant por-tion is managed by individual land owners, for whom there are many sources of information and assis-tance to help meet forest steward-ship goals. Here are some near BI and on the Web:
MSU Extension’s Boyne City office is a great place to start look-ing for information and access to education programs. We stock a variety of bulletins on woodland stewardship and can direct you to educational programs in this area. One of our newest efforts helps landowners plan to transfer forest land to heirs. Call 231-582-6232 orwww.msue.msu.edu/charlevoix.
Natural Resources Conservation Service. This federal agency administers the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQUIP), part of the 2008 Farm Bill, that provides cost-share assis-tance to forestland owners to hire a professional forester who is a certi-fied plan writer to develop a ste-wardship plan, which is a very im-portant tool for reaching your goals. Call 231-347-5255 to reach the Petoskey office.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Until recently, DNR Service Foresters in northern Michigan provided direct assis-tance to forest landowners. With budget cuts and retirements, that service is no longer available in this area, but the DNR web site has useful information, especially about two state laws, the Commer-cial Forest Act and Qualified For-est Properties Act, that can reduce private landowner property taxes. Search for “private forest lands” at www.michigan.gov/dnr.
Forestry consultants are pro-fessionals who provide assistance to forest landowners for a fee, most frequently to help write steward-ship plans or manage timber. You can find area consultants listed on the MSU Extension website.
Other excellent forestry web sites include Michigan Forest Pathways (miforestpathways.net), Michigan Forest Association (www.michiganforests.com), and the U.P. Tree Identification guide (uptreeid.com). There are lots of other ways to learn about your fo-rests through books, magazines, conversation with other landown-ers and membership in landowner associations. It’s a great idea to do your homework and take an active stewardship role. A well-planned forest will yield many benefits.
-Dean Solomon, Sr. Educator
MSU Extension, Boyne City