Laws & References>Forest Improvements

Forest Improvements
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In 1899, a State Forestry Commission was formed; however, the reforestation of Michigan officially began in 1903 with Act 175, the Forest Reserve Act, which is now included in Part 5 of NREPA (Public Act 451 of 1994). The Michigan Forestry Commission was given power to cut, remove or sell any trees, timber, or other forest products from tax delinquent lands. The Public Domain Commission was established in 1909 and a full-time State Forest Warden was appointed in 1910 whose duties included fire protection, land surveying, and tree planting on the State-owned forest lands (State Forests).
The current Forest Management Division was established in 1977 by merging the Forestry and Forest Fire Divisions. In 1993, portions of the Recreation and Trails Section were added to the Division. The Division is responsible for managing 3.8 million acres of State forest lands, providing forest fire protection and control on 20.0 million acres of forest and wild lands, administering forest insect and disease control programs, providing opportunities and leadership in developing dispersed recreation resources, management of 1,700 miles of State designated Natural Rivers and their associated public and private lands (See Tab 25), coordinating State resource and land management of 1,089 miles of Federal Wild and Scenic River corridors, and for providing assistance to private forest land owners and associated industries which affect forest resources. Michigan has the largest State forest system in the United States. Michigan's State forests occupy one-fifth of the total forest area in the State. Only seven organizations, both private and public, in the entire United States manage larger acreages of land.

Some of the various laws that reflect a policy to preserve, protect, and improve forest land, as well as to improve timber productivity in the state, include:

Laws affecting Timber

Part 501 - Forest Improvements
Part 505 - Michigan Forest Finance Authority
Part 507 - Forest Management Demonstration Program
Part 511 - Commercial Forests
Part 513 - Private Forestry

Cooperative Resource Programs:
This program provides forestry assistance and incentives to private landowners to help them understand, appreciate, and manage their forests and woodlands. The Private Forest Development Section administers Michigan's Commercial Forest Act, assists counties and townships with their administration of the Private Forest Reserve Act, and administers the Forest Stewardship and Stewardship Incentives programs as well as other Federally funded cost-share programs. This Section also advocates and promotes interagency cooperation to improve and implement forest landowner assistance programs in Michigan and provides information about the extent, value, and contribution of Michigan’s private forest lands.
Implement the recently amended Commercial Forest Act and move forward with proposed administrative rules.
- Propose amendments to the Private Forest Reserve Act and provide technical assistance to help develop those amendments.
- Guide preparation of 300 Forest Stewardship plans for 35,000 acres of non-industrial private forest lands and install stewardship cost share practices on 1,000 acres of non-industrial private forest lands.
- Improve the effectiveness of forestry assistance and incentive programs through improved coordination among the public and private partners involved.
- Build a forest stewardship philosophy, viewpoint, and structure into all forest management plans prepared for private landowners statewide.

Planning:This program is responsible for gathering and maintaining data, researching issues, preparing plans, and proposing policies regarding the management of all forest land in Michigan, including supporting the development of forest plans in an open, collaborative context. It is intended to cut across and integrate all Division objectives, especially in the face of new issues and challenges like biodiversity conservation.
Participate in Departmental development of integrated ecosystem planning procedures and extend developments into Divisional planning efforts.
- Monitor, pilot, and develop methods and procedures for defining, implementing, and assuring sustainable forest resource management.
- Develop an integrated, user-friendly Geographic Information System (GIS) and complementary databases, analytic methods, computer hardware and software, global positioning system, training for efficient management decision-making, and for service to and cooperation with others.
- Coordinate the development of methods and agreements for promoting the integration of natural resource protection, management, and related programs in Michigan.
- Continue to promote and develop State-level policies and plans for ecological inventory, mapping, monitoring, evaluation, and its integration with social and economic data.
- Support the related initiatives of other units as appropriate.

Forest Health:
This program monitors, protects, and enhances all forest resources in the State by detecting and reducing the losses to all values caused by forest insects, diseases, and other potentially damaging agents. This is carried out through intensive monitoring and analysis in an ecologically sound manner in coordination with various agencies.
- Implement satellite remote sensing technology to monitor various problems.
- Continue maintenance of a statewide forest health monitoring and detection system.
- Develop a comprehensive old growth implementation plan.
Conduct field surveys to determine levels of insect and disease infestation and damage.
- Continue the development of GIS technology to serve as a model for a Division-wide system.
- Assist other Divisions/ Departments in pest management and forest health areas.
- Coordinate information and technology with other agencies to promote better and more cost-effective monitoring systems for Gypsy Moth defoliation and other insect and disease damage.
Continue coordination of the national forest health monitoring program.
- Continue training of Division employees with regard to forest pest management and forest health.
- Continue the development of indicators of sound forest health predictors.
- Train Division employees in Global Positioning Systems and Geographic Information Systems technology.
- Continue monitoring Gypsy Moth fungus test plots and determine the impact of 1992 releases.
- Develop a public awareness program for hemlock woolly adelgid and train department staff on its identification and importance.
- Develop systems to allow field managers to access forest health data and prescriptions.
- Implement supplemental aerial photography capability at two field sites.
- Continue development of an enhanced inventory, monitoring assessment, and prescription support system for the Division.
- Expand Division/Department GIS infrastructure to accommodate GIS delivery to field managers.

(Always refer to the most current version of the law, either by checking the compiled laws, or referring to the Legislative Bureau site above.)
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