Chainsaws for WildlifeMarch 30th, 2011
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to address both the Michigan House of Representatives Subcommittee on Forestry and Mining and a group of forestland stakeholders and legislators at a forestry conference we co-hosted: Michigan’s Forests: Opportunities for Growth.
Why is MUCC so interested in forestry issues? The answer: it’s all about the habitat! Well managed habitat=abundant game species. Not to mention all the additional conservation and economic benefits that comes from good forest management.
With all the talk about Michigan’s stagnate economy and dwindling budget, the baiting debate, feral swine, etc., it might seem like we aren’t moving forward. But I believe the forest industry is working overtime to showcase their strengths, seizing the opportunity to work with the new Michigan Legislature and Governor to ensure our forests are highly productive, sustainable, and profitable once again.
Below is a snippit from my remarks at these two events. We are currently working on a legislative package to encourage private forestland owners to manage their land sustainably so that all the residents of Michigan will benefit, people and wildlife included.
A quick look at a map shows that the State of Michigan is at the heart of the Great Lakes Region, comprising nearly 37 million acres of land and 10 million people. As Governor Milliken once said, “The 37 million acres that are Michigan is all the Michigan we will ever have…” The actions that Michigan’s state and local decision makers and natural resource managers take have a cumulative impact on the region’s water quality, wildlife habitat, forests, fisheries, watershed health, and ultimately, on the entire Great Lakes ecosystem and economy.
Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) believes there is a critical need in Michigan to promote what the word “conservation” really means to a state like ours, both to ensure protection, restoration, and enhancement of our natural resources and to grow our economy. The term “conservation”, when correctly applied, means that a healthy economy and a healthy environment are not mutually exclusive.
Active management should not be seen as a negative term. Managed forests are healthy forests— they produce more game species to benefit hunters and trappers, and help naturally filter water runoff and prevent erosion which helps our sportfishing and water quality. Management makes the whole forest more resilient and resistant to forest health threats.
Not only is active management good for our forests, it’s also good for our economy. Timber from the almost 4 million acres of state forests and 2.2 million acres of commercial forest lands currently fuels the forest products industry. The National Forests are producing less and less timber each year for a variety of reasons: insufficient funding and manpower, endangered species concerns, and needless court battles. We must continue to sustainably harvest timber off of all of these lands, however we believe the untapped opportunity for growth lies in the 9.6 million acres of non-industrial private forestlands in Michigan.