Cutting red tape to cut more timber

Michigan State Roundup

Published May 1, 2005  | May 2005 issue

New federal rules for forest management will have a big effect on the way wood is harvested in Upper Peninsula forests.

The rules speed up the approval process for timber sales by changing the appeals system for citizens opposed to the sales. The rules were primarily designed with western U.S. forests in mind, but they will cause a major logging change in Michigan's national forests as well.

Of 70 million board feet allowable for cutting in the Hiawatha National Forest in 2003, only 26.7 million were harvested. Forest management practices return 25 percent of the gross revenue from timber sales to the counties where timber was harvested.

Under current rules, citizens can appeal timber sales through letter-writing campaigns. Some sales were delayed for years. New federal rules that change this process were listed March 18, beginning a 90-day public comment period. Environmental groups complained the period was too short to fully review the long, complicated documents. A resolution in support of the new rules was adopted by several Upper Peninsula counties.

Joe Mahon