Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development promotes forest management on private lands
MDARD has 20 conservation districts that encompass 49 counties on both of Michigan’s peninsulas. Foresters from these districts work with private land owners to develop a forest management plan specific to their forestland, providing technical assistance and referring the landowners to the private sector where necessary. This year saw 426 forest management plans for over 48,000 acres.
A survey conducted by Michigan State University of private forest landowners concluded that less than 20 percent of the 11 million acre resource was actively being managed.
Landowners who agree to follow a written forest management plan are eligible for enrolment in the Qualified Forest Program, which grants them tax exemption. The MDARD has received 2,450 applications, covering 318,453 acres.
More recently, the department has begun the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP), which is a voluntary and incentive-based program aimed at promoting sound agricultural procedures for environmental protection while still allowing landowners to benefit economically.
Michigan landowners with forestland have an incentive to properly manage it, as the state’s forest product businesses sector earned more than $25.8 million from exports so far in 2015.