GLADSTONE – The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced today that the two agencies are completing another step toward implementation of the Good Neighbor Authority in the state. The parties are signing two Supplemental Project Agreements (SPAs) for timber sale work on the Hiawatha and Ottawa National Forests in the U.P.
The Good Neighbor Authority offers the opportunity to work across jurisdictional boundaries to sustainably manage forest lands by allowing state resources to accomplish work planned on national forest system lands. The projects will maintain and create healthy forest conditions as called for in the national forests’ land and resource management plans, while providing additional wood fiber to Michigan’s vital forest products industry.
A portion of the receipts from the timber sales will reimburse the state for its costs to do the work, with remaining funds available to conduct additional restoration activities on the forest. On-the-ground work is expected to occur in 2016 and 2017.
A separate SPA is being signed for each National Forest by its respective Forest Supervisor – Cid Morgan for the Hiawatha and Linda Jackson for the Ottawa – and DNR Director Bill Moritz.
“The US Forest Service values this and other partnership efforts between the national forests and the state,” Jackson said.
She said managing over 3 million acres in the Michigan provides ample opportunity for the Forest Service to partner with the DNR and other land management agencies in a variety of ways, such as trails, fisheries, law enforcement and more.
The Ottawa National Forest’s SPA includes The Ottawa National Forest’s SPA includes five stands to be implemented in 2016, including almost 300 acres of red pine thinning. In 2017, additional red pine thinning will implemented on the Ottawa National Forest via GNA.
“The US Forest Service has a legacy of managing National Forest lands in a way that provides a wide range of benefits to all Americans,” said Morgan.
In addition to the benefit of timber receipts and other payments to local communities, Morgan said the National Forests in Michigan protect cultural and environmental resources; provide outstanding natural settings and iconic facilities for recreation and tourism; offer employment opportunities; and protect special areas like wildernesses.
The Hiawatha National Forest SPA includes two sales including almost 500 acres of work in aspen, balsam fir, northern hardwoods, and red, white and jack pine forest types starting this year. Forest Service management objectives for these sales include thinning red pine plantations, improving hardwood stands, and regenerating aspen and jackpine as wildlife habitat.
Director Moritz echoed the sentiment that the project outlined in the SPAs will continue the ongoing positive collaborative relationship between state and federal land management agencies.
“We very much appreciate the willingness of our federal partners to undertake this pilot program in Michigan,” he said. “This program is a tribute to the leadership of the U.S. Forest Service to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of forest management.”
Each National Forest’s SPA is supplemental to the state-wide GNA Master Agreement signed in October 2015. The master agreement outlined the general terms of this collaborative initiative, while the SPAs are project specific. Michigan’s GNA master agreement was among the first signed in the country.