Take our timber, fill our coffers

Michigan State Roundup

Published January 1, 2004  | January 2004 issue

The Alger County Board, in hopes of bringing in more revenue, unanimously passed a resolution calling on the U.S. Forest Service to increase timber cutting in the Hiawatha National Forest.

The county receives 25 percent of the proceeds from timber cut from the forest each year. The current forest management plan allows for up to 90 million board feet to be cut annually, but recent figures fall significantly below that, with 43.7 million board feet cut in 2001.

The Forest Service's procedure for determining timber cuts—an environmental analysis—is subject to an appeals process. Rangers claim appeals and lawsuits by groups opposed to logging are a major factor keeping timber harvests down, in addition to complicated resource considerations.

But the County Board is dealing with decreased road and school budgets, for which the timber payments are used, and wants to push the cutting toward the maximum sustainable limit. It also points out that prices have risen, which means increased proceeds for all parties, including the county.

Hiawatha's overall forest management plan is currently under revision, a process which takes place every 10 to 15 years.

Joe Mahon