Written by Emily S. Huff, Michigan State University
In early August 2023, the Academy of Natural Resources hosted the inaugural Forest Frenzy track in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. This week-long academy is co-hosted by The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Forest Association and brings 20 K-12 teachers together for natural resource focused professional development. This 2023 cohort experienced Michigan’s forests through basic classroom learning and field trips throughout the Upper Peninsula, including the Keweenaw peninsula, Porcupine Mountain Wilderness area, and other sites.
Midweek, the 20 teachers were joined by Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science instructors Stephen Handler and Mattison Brady to learn about climate change adaptation and forest resilience at two Forest Stewards Guild Properties – one in Nisula and one on Lake Annie Road in Hancock, Michigan. Teachers hiked through the properties and learned about Emerald Ash Borer, the need for species diversity and structural complexity, and the basic climate scorecard foresters can use to ensure they are managing forests for resiliency. At the Lake Annie Road property, we discussed the challenges of managing small parcels – the reality for many family and individual private landowners in the U.S.
Teachers marveled at the differences between the two sites and the importance of considering the unique ecology of a site. They were surprised to learn that the desire to set up a timber sale did not always lead to a completed timber harvest. The Guild sites were a perfect setting to learn about forest stewardship under changing climate conditions.
Editors note: A little about the parcels we visited: The Guild owns six parcels of land in Houghton County Michigan totaling 330 acres. The parcels were gifted to the Guild in 2016 from the estate of Fred Prince and his organization Forest for the Future. Guild staff worked with an intern from Michigan Tech University (Russel Lipe) and a local forestry consulting company Green Timber to develop a management plan in 2017 and enrolled in The Nature Conservancy’s Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) FSC® – C008922 Group Certificate in 2018 along with Michigan’s Commercial Forest Program. These parcels have also been incorporated into the Guild Model Forest Program with a focus on demonstrating ecological forestry on small ownerships.