Michigan launches oak regeneration program to restore forest health

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently launched a multi-year effort to reforest between 2,000 and 2,500 acres in Kalkaska County. The state land has mature oaks that block oak seedlings from taking root. Timber harvesting encourages acorns and stumps with well-established root systems to sprout new trees.

Woodlands that lack human intervention put species diversity at risk, said Dave Lemmien, a DNR forest manager in Traverse City, Michigan. Aging oaks create thick canopies that inhibit natural reseeding, he said. Shade-loving trees and plants take over.

They will grow just to certain size and that’s it,” Lemmien said. “You are not creating canopy gaps and allowing for natural generation for regrowth to occur.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Forest Service are also involved in oak reforestation efforts across the Midwest.

The programs primarily comprise clearing trees, planting new seedlings and often burning parts of the forest floor on federal, state and private lands.

Photo credit: Storm Cunningham

See full Traverse City Record-Eagle article by Carin Tunney.

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