Forest landowner meetings start Wednesday

ESCANABA — Forest landowners in the Upper Peninsula are encouraged to attend one of two identical meetings meant to inform them of opportunities they may be able to take advantage of over the next five years. The meetings, which are being held by the Delta Conservation District (DCD), will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 9, and Wednesday, May 16, in room 952 of Bay College’s Joseph Heirman University Center.

DCD Executive Director Rory Mattson said the opportunities discussed at these meetings will be available to landowners throughout the U.P.

“Every county — every place — has the same opportunities,” he said. According to Mattson, these opportunities include forest management and wildlife management technical assistance and in-person site visits.

Financial incentives are also available for forest landowners in the area.

“If you’re already managing your property for forestry or wildlife, there’s … payments that you can get once a year to help you or encourage you to keep managing,” Mattson said.

The meetings will include information on how forest landowners can have their taxes reduced, as well.

“We can get them into … state tax cut programs because they own the forestland,” Mattson said.

Additionally, forest landowners attending the meetings will learn about their legal rights.

“I’ll be explaining the Right to (Forest) Act in the state of Michigan and how Michigan landowners can get involved in that to protect themselves … from any possible liability,” Mattson said.

Mattson said the meetings will also provide forest landowners with a look at the forest certification programs available to them.

According to Mattson, there are two forest certification programs active in the state. The DCD has been able to help local landowners get certified through the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

However, the state of Michigan was essentially the only U.P. landowner that was Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified — until now.

“The (DCD) will be forming a group … to help in the certification of the little private landowners to be FSC-certified,” Mattson said. He noted that there will be no cost to private landowners for joining this group.

As the FSC offers global market certification, Mattson said certification from the council will provide a financial boost to both landowners and loggers in the U.P.

“That certification then opens landowners up for extra revenue when they sell their timber. Also, loggers will receive extra revenue for harvesting the timber,” he said.

Making it easier for U.P. landowners to become FSC-certified could eventually have an even larger economic impact on the area, Mattson said.

“The goal is to … attract forest product industries to the Upper Peninsula,” he said.