This page describes the Michigan Forest Association (MFA) and provides position statements adopted by the MFA Board of Directors
The following sections detail positions on several issues that MFA feels are important to forestry in the State of Michigan. These positions were developed after considerable thought and deliberation by the Board and input from our general membership.
MFA is constantly reviewing the state of forestry in Michigan and will develop new or revised positions as the situation warrants.
- MICHIGAN STEWARDSHIP PLEDGE
MICHIGAN IS MY HOME.
It is a special place in the land of the Great Lakes where fresh waters lap upon the shores of two peninsulas.
I WILL STRIVE TO KEEP THE BEACHES CLEAN AND THE WATER PURE.
Some of the land is used for cities and industry where families live and work.
I WILL HELP PEOPLE LEARN HOW TO KEEP THESE USES FROM DAMAGING THE AIR, WATER AND SOIL.
Some of the land is used for agriculture, providing food and clothing for us all.
I WILL SUPPORT THE KIND OF FARMING THAT IS GOOD FOR THE SOIL AND DOES NOT POLLUTE THE WATER.
Some of the land is used for forest, a renewable resource. The forest produces wood and fiber for our needs, habitat for wildlife, recreation and beauty for all who pass by.
I WILL BE CONSIDERATE OF ALL THE VALUES OF THE FOREST.
I SHALL STRIVE TO LIVE IN HARMONY WITH MY FAMILY, MY NEIGHBORS AND THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT.
I WANT TO LEARN HOW TO BE A GOOD STEWARD OF THIS LAND AND TO INSURE FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS, THAT ALL THE BENEFITS I NOW ENJOY, WILL ALSO BE THEIRS, WHEN MICHIGAN IS THEIR HOME.
(MICHIGAN FOREST ASSOCIATION © February 1992)
Policy and Position Statements
- Tax Equity
Policy Statement on Tax Equity for Small Forest Holdings
The State of Michigan has long recognized the need for tax equity for forested lands. The rationale is that all lands should be taxed in proportion to their value or productive capacity. Over several years the State developed and modified two forest tax programs, the Commercial Forest Act (CFA), and the Private Forest Reserve Act (PFRA). Revisions on CFA, which make it more equitable and more economical to administer, have been passed. PFRA has restrictive requirements for qualification, which have caused only about 5,000 acres statewide to be enrolled in the program. Some revisions to PFRA should make it applicable to more woodlands, more equitable, and should have the result of maintaining more land in forest and promoting better management.
The Michigan Forest Association supports the development of a new or revised act to cover small forested parcels. This proposed act or revision would be modeled after the current CFA with the following major points:
- The purpose of the act is to make it possible for landowners to maintain ownership of commercial forest land without paying taxes based on a “higher” use or the land.
- Owners would be required to have a management plan for the area enrolled, This plan could include such things as wildlife openings, wildlife management, timber harvest, wetland considerations, etc.
- Minimum forested acreage would be 10 acres in any one parcel, with a maximum of 1/4 section in any one contiguous tract,
- Payments would be the same as under the CFA if the owner does not wish to restrict public access.
- By paying double the CFA rate, owners would be allowed to restrict public access, while having all the other benefits of the act.
- There would be no requirement that the parcel be part of a farm.
- Lands currently enrolled in the CFA or PFRA could be enrolled in this act without penalty, if the lands otherwise qualify under the new act.
- Restrictions on development, buildings, other commercial uses, etc. would parallel the CFA.
- This act should provide for paying the appropriate tax rather than getting a tax rebate on the income tax or the small business tax (as in PA 116).
The Michigan Forest Association favors classifying forest land as agricultural land for purposes of being assessed at the agricultural rate (currently 6 mills).
This policy was adopted by the Board of Directors of the Michigan Forest Association on February 7, 1997, renewed May 16, 2003.
- Deer Damage
Position Statement on Deer Damage
Several areas in Michigan have experienced significant amounts of agricultural crop damage from the large deer herd. Where such crop damage has been documented and relief sought, block permits for harvesting deer have been issued. This has generally been accepted as a satisfactory way of addressing the situation.
In many places planted seedlings and naturally regenerated forest trees are also experiencing severe deer damage. Attempts to control damage to seedlings by repellents and fencing have proven either ineffective or costly. Heavy browsing by deer results in a new forest of insufficient density, or the elimination of tree and other forest flora. ‘The overbrowsed areas lose much of their value to both society and wildlife.
The Michigan Forest Association proposes use of block deer permits issued to forest landowners for harvesting deer in instances of documented deer damage to forest trees either planted or naturally regenerated.
Adopted by the MFA Board of Directors 2/10/95. Amended 2/7/97 and 5/16/03. Renewed 5/16/03.
- Old Growth
Policy Statement on Old Growth
Old Growth timber stands are important for two reasons: first, they are important as ecological study areas where natural processes can be studied; second, it is important for people to know that some old growth areas still exist relatively unaffected by the hand of man.
MFA supports the preservation of most remaining old growth stands for the reasons stated above. This does not mean, however, that we support preservation of all stands of large trees or individual large trees. We recognize that most forest stands in Michigan have been heavily affected by human activities and have limited value as natural study areas. We also recognize that well-managed forests have most of the characteristics of old growth that appeal to the general public.
Second growth forests of large trees should not be confused with old growth and should not be labeled as such. To call such stands old growth detracts from the message our association strives to convey to the public that good forest management produces fine quality stands, both economically and aesthetically. Old growth management concepts should not be applied to stands such as aspen which start to disintegrate and be replaced by other species as they mature.
This position statement was adopted by the Michigan Forest Association Board of Directors on May 8, 1993. It was modified on August 11, 2000, and on November 9, 2007
- Promotion of Private Forest Management
Position on Promotion of Private Forest Management
The Michigan Forest Association (MFA) recognizes that management of private timberlands is important to Michigan and the nation both from the standpoint of environmental protection and from the standpoint of future timber supplies. Since approximately half of the timberland in Michigan and in the United States is owned by nonindustrial private owners, the health and productivity of these forests is important economically and socially.
MFA relies on the following assumptions in making the recommendations which follow.
- that most woodland owners are not damaging their land or the environment,
- that inequitable taxation is a significant obstacle to maintaining lands in forest cover and managing the forests properly,
- that woodland owners provide many benefits to society such as clean air, pure water, wildlife habitat, and recreation for which society does not compensate them, that education and incentives to private landowners are more effective and less costly in promoting good forest management on private lands than punitive regulations,
- that the Forest Stewardship Program, sponsored jointly by the U. S. Forest Service and the Michigan DNR, and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), sponsored by forest industry, are effective programs to provide good management information, requiring minimum oversight when landowners are working with a professional forester,
- that lumber grading rules, administered by the wood using industry, are a good example of a successful long-standing program of self-regulation operated by industry without government control,
- that laws passed by other states spelling out the right of landowners to practice forestry have been a factor in encouraging good forest management, that eliminating positions of Service Foresters so that Michigan has approximately 1/10 as many Service Foresters as nearby states with less private forest land seriously jeopardizes successful education of woodland owners,
- that fragmentation of land and conversion to other uses, not timber harvesting. is the main threat to forests,
- that industry, through its own initiatives and in cooperation with other programs, can be very effective in promoting good forest stewardship, based on self interest.
For the reasons stated above. MFA recommends the following:
- that the Legislature be urged to provide adequate funding for state agencies to provide information on good forest management to private woodland owners,
- that the Legislature be urged to provide equitable taxation for woodland owners so that land is taxed in proportion to its productive capacity rather than for higher uses such as development. (This measure should slow the conversion of forest land to other uses. )
- that the right to practice forestry, including the harvesting of timber, be affirmed as public policy in Michigan, that the Legislature promote education and voluntary guidelines, rather than regulations, to promote healthy forests and good forest practices,
- that the Legislature and the Administration be encouraged to continue efforts to promote private forestry and forest products to benefit forest landowners and Michigan’s economy.
Passed by the Michigan Forest Association Board 2/7/97. Modified 8/11/00.
- Timber Supply From Public Land
Position on Timber Supply From Public Land
For reasons stated below the Michigan Forest Association favors the multiple use management of public lands in accordance with applicable laws. Public lands should provide timber products in proportion to their productive capacity. MFA favors timber harvesting of allowable cuts to provide forest products demanded by society in a way that protects long-term productivity and enjoyment of other forest benefits. MFA favors harvest levels that are sustainable and opposes reduction in harvest levels not based on science.
MFA believes the following:
- The demand for forest products in the State of Michigan, the U. S., and the world will continue to grow as populations continue to grow.
- The forests of Michigan and much of the rest of the United States are renewable and, if managed scientifically, they can provide forest products and other benefits of the forest such as clean air, pure water, wildlife habitat, recreation, aesthetics, and other amenities indefinitely into the future without any diminishing of products and without any environmental damage.
- The reduction of cutting on federal lands unnecessarily reduces income to the Treasury and federal payments in lieu of taxes to local governments. It further harms local economies by reducing employment.
- The reduction in harvest may also result in overcutting on other forest ownerships in the U.S. and in other countries.
- The manufacture of forest products is accomplished with less use of non-renewable fossil fuels and with less pollution than the manufacture of possible substitutes for forest products.
This position statement was adopted by the Michigan Forest Association Board on 2/7/97, modified 8/10/00.
- Woodland Responsibility
THE NATIONAL WOODLAND OWNERS RESPONSIBILITY CODE
As Woodland Owners we agree to:
1. Follow Best Management Practices when harvesting trees.
2. Show, by action, a practical concern for other resources, including water, wildlife, soil, and natural beauty
3. Share our knowledge of good forestry with others and exercise our property rights in a responsible manner.
4. Use only “certified loggers” when available.
5. When practical, and at our discretion, we will consider opening our land to hunting and other uses by the public, either at a fee or at no cost.
6. Manage our woodlands to promote economic and biological benefits.
In Return, we expect:
1. Respect for private property rights.
2. Fair timber taxes, at the federal, state, and local levels.
3. Self -policing among mill owners so as not to provide a market for stolen or improperly harvested wood
4. Loggers and foresters to perform to the highest standards
5. Multiple sources of professional forestry advice and educational opportunities.
6. A fair chance to compete in a free market.
Supported as an affiliate of the National Woodland Owners Association originally on 2/10/95 and renewed on 2/4/00 by the MFA Board and renewed again on 5/16/03.
- Membership Lists
Policy on Membership Lists
Many people and organizations are interested in mailing lists for everything from advertising products to providing educational opportunities. The MFA membership (or mailing) list is uniquely restricted to people interested in forestry and forest land ownership. It therefore represents a narrowly focused refined list for certain interest groups.
The executive director is the keeper of the list and is responsible for seeing that it is not misused.
The executive director is encouraged to provide the list free of charge to non-profit organizations (universities, extension offices, other government organizations, etc. for educational purposes). This is to include such things as fliers for seminars, announcements of forums or discussions of forestry interests, proposed legislative actions, etc.
The executive director is restricted from providing the list for commercial purposes without prior approval from the executive committee or the entire board of directors if possible. The board of directors or executive committee may consider each commercial use of the list on its own merits, and may require the payment of fees to the organization if they feel it is in the organization’s best interests to receive the proposed mailing.
Whenever the list is released, a restrictive statement should accompany the list. This statement, or covenant, shall prevent the recipient of the list from selling, reselling, or giving the list to any other person or organization.
If the intent of the organization requesting the mailing list seems appropriate, but the requester is unwilling to guarantee the security of the list, the executive director may request that the proposed mailing materials be sent directly to the MFA office. Upon receipt of the materials, complete with postage, the director can affix the mailing labels of the organization. This will provide the membership with potentially valuable materials and at the same time keep the list secure.
Passed by the Michigan Forest Association Board on 1/13/89. Amended 2/7/97. Renewed 5/16/03.
- Mineral Resource Removal
Policy on Mineral Resource Removal
Minerals such as gas, oil, iron or , copper, and so forth are required to maintain our way of life. From time to time, removal of the resources from public lands has been the subject of debate as the removal activity appears to infringe on the interests of some individuals or groups. Certainly there are instances when the impact of removal would not be in the best interest of the majority of the public. However, if the removal can be done in a reasonable fashion and the impacts of the removal are minimized, and/or mitigated it is in the best interest of the general public to allow such removals.
Government agencies are often required to make decisions that may conflict with the wishes of some individuals or groups. It is imperative that these agencies carefully weigh the issues and act in the best interests of the general public.
The Michigan Forest Association supports the removal of mineral resources from public lands when adequate safeguards are taken to minimize the impact on the other resources such as water, soil, visual quality, air, forests, wildlife, and fisheries.
Passed by the Michigan Forest Association Board on 8/15/03.
- Markets for Low-Quality Wood
Position on Markets for Low-Quality Wood
Michigan Forest Association is a group of forest landowners, foresters, and others interested in the well-being of Michigan’s forest resources. Sustainable, scientific forest management is the underpinning of the health of our resource, regardless of ownership. This scientific management seeks to provide growing space for the trees with high value potential – generally by removing trees of lesser quality. Thus, markets for these trees of lesser quality are essential for sustaining the health of our forests.
Michigan is currently growing more than twice as much wood as we are harvesting. Much of the surplus growth is in low-quality material. The situation is exacerbated in Lower Michigan by the recent closing of three major plants that used low-quality wood – two pulp mills and a fiber board mill
The sustained health of Michigan’s forest depends on the availability of markets for the products we are growing; we are currently lacking in markets for low-quality wood.
Therefore, Michigan Forest Association favors development of wood-using plants that would provide markets for our accumulating surplus of low-grade material. Such markets might be for paper, fiber boards, fuel, or other products.
This position statement was adopted by the Michigan Forest Association Board of Directors on November 9, 2007.