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Forestry - Forest Management

Forests change. They change in response to natural events like wind storms and fires, they change in response to climate variations, they change as a result of animal use, and they change as a result of human activity. Forests even change over time as trees age and are replaced by others. Whether we like it or not and even if we do nothing ourselves, forests change.

Forest management is a human attempt to push this inevitable change toward some goal set by the landowner or society at large. These goals may include clean water, abundant animals for hunting, pleasant views, plant diversity, recreation opportunities, and wood products to name but a few. Many goals can be achieved simultaneously on the same ground while others must be pursued separately in either time or place. Meeting any goal, though, is more quickly done through active management rather than by waiting for nature to take its course.

Foresters are professionals who possess a formal education in forest science and have experience with manipulating forest ecosystems. They have an appreciation of the biological, economic, and sociological forces that affect forests. Foresters offer their knowledge and skills to help landowners get what they want from their woodlots. They also help to ensure that the needs of society at large are met.

In addition to all of the demands placed on our forests by hikers, bikers, skiers, campers, hunters, tourists, "environmentalists", "preservationists", birders, and any other user group you can think of, society also wants wood. This is the elephant in the room that many people want to ignore. Each American uses about 10, 9" diameter trees each year, or about 4 pounds of wood each day. They demand that this need be met as well.

Forestry is not necessary if all a landowner wants is to make a quick buck from his land. On the other hand foresters specialize in developing and implementing long-term plans for forests that meet both the current and future needs of the landowner and society.

Here on the Fond du Lac reservation we have over 31,000 acres of forested tribal lands. The majority of this forested land is dominated by aspen due to past land use and/or disturbance patterns (like fires, floods, insect outbreaks, logging), our climate, and our soil type. We also have several thousand acres each of northern hardwoods (species like sugar maple, basswood, and yellow birch) and swamp conifers (black spruce, northern white cedar, or tamarack).

Forests are managed on the Fond du Lac Reservation to maintain or create wildlife habitat, maintain or increase biodiversity, improve the health and vigor of our forests and associated ecosystems, generate income and employment for Band members, and for special purposes like creating habitat ideal for blueberry growth or reducing the fuels around houses to protect them from wildfires. Timber Sale design and harvesting utilize Ecological Silviculture and the best science available. Ecological Silviculture seeks to mimic natural disturbance patterns and to grow trees most suited to a given site’s moisture and nutrient qualities.

Fond du Lac Forest Cover-type Map

Sugar Bush Tapping Guidelines

For more information about forestry on the Fond du Lac reservation you may contact Steve Olson, or Christian Nelson at the Resource Management office.Link to Resource Management Staff page.

For more information about forest management you may visit the University of Minnesota – Extension website

Original article written by Michigan State University’s Upper Peninsula Tree Improvement Center (http://agbioresearch.msu.edu/centers/fbic) and amended by Christian Nelson, Fond du Lac Allotment Forester.