Written by Colleen Robinson and Michael Lynch
Our first Guild Gathering in more than a year was graced with beautiful weather and great company amid Michigan’s stunning Upper Peninsula in early August 2021.
There is a lot to celebrate with this event, including coming together with the budding Michigan Foresters for the Birds Program, and our partners at Michigan Tech University and the American Bird Conservancy. The biggest gift by far was that all of us were able to walk on Guild-owned land (the only Guild-owned land in the country) and discuss the history of management there, observe the beauty, opportunities, and challenges present in the parcels today, and thoughtfully share ideas for future management.
Thinking about future management on these three Guild parcels that total more than 400 wooded acres requires us to keep in mind the soils, wildlife (including birds), climate impacts, forest products opportunities, and so much more. Like on any responsibly and sustainably managed forest land we pondered all of this and more as we took care to notice what the land was telling us.
Guild Gatherings are all about coming together and sharing ideas, expertise, and concerns in a safe space where there are no “stupid” questions or well-defined “teachers” and “students.” As we gear up for our 2021 Forest Steward magazine theme of “Learning Together,” this Lake States gathering embodied the experience full-on. Attendees were super engaged, thoughtful, willing to consider new ideas – and offer them up too! That’s what I love the most about Guild Gatherings and I can’t thank this group enough for their participation and presence during tours on these Guild acres.
A little about the parcels we visited: The Guild owns seven parcels of land in Houghton County Michigan totaling 410 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 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 – all parcels are less than 80 acres and spread across a large area. No harvesting has occurred on the properties since the Guild took ownership, but several of the parcels are scheduled for treatment in the next few years and the Lake States Guild Gathering offered a great opportunity to discuss these goals, objectives, and strategies at three of the parcels.
Thank you to everyone who joined us in Michigan!