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Northern Hardwood Management

In Michigan, the long-term ecological trend of northern hardwoods is towards Sugar Maple, Sugar Maple-Beech or Maple-Basswood. This timber type accounts for more than 6 million acres within Michigan. Tree species often found in hardwood stands would be sugar maple, red maple, basswood, american beech, black cherry, white ash, yellow birch, white birch, quaking aspen, bigtooth aspen, red oak and white oak.

In general, northern hardwood stands are characterized by tree species which are shade-tolerant, long-lived and respond well to release (thinnings) at advanced ages. The soil types can vary from sandy loams, loamy sands, to heavy, poorly drained clays. Most tree species associated with northern hardwood stands naturally reproduce from seed. Seed quantity and quality does vary from year to year within tree species.

Northern hardwood forest management is complex and should not be taken lightly. Final products associated with these stands have extremely high value at today's market conditions. These products are high quality sawlogs for lumber and veneer. Therefore, it is extremely crucial private landowners do NOT thin too lightly, too heavily or too often. We recommend private landowners meet with a professional forester to review current forest conditions and management plan development. Then implement the recommended practices to improve the landowner's northern hardwood stands through periodic thinnings (uneven-aged management). The adjacent pictures document the expected maple regeneration from periodic hardwood thinnings.  For additional Northern Hardwood Management recommendations, see the attached document: Northern Hardwood Management.

Aspen Management

An early successional tree species, Quaking Aspen and Bigtooth Aspen, will quite often reforest site previously disturbed. This timber type accounts for approximately 3 million acres within Michigan. Associated tree species within these aspen stands are generally balsam fir, red maple, white birch, pin cherry and white pine.

Aspen stands are generally short-lived, shade-intolerant and respond well to clearcutting (even-aged management) at rotation age. Aspen can be found growing on a variety of soil types from well-drained sandy soils to heavy clay soils. Aspen naturally regenerates via root suckering. In fact, it has been shown that healthy productive aspen stands can produce up to 70,000 aspen shoots (sucker) per acre following a disturbance. If aspen stands are not actively managed via scheduled clearcutting (every 40-50 years), the stands will naturally succeed to more shade tolerant tree species, such as red maple. Final products of a well managed aspen stand would be pulpwood, sawlogs and aspen veneer.

Private landowners must be aware of this fact due to the importance of aspen towards ruffed grouse, woodcock and whitetail deer management. When managing aspen as ruffed grouse and whitetail deer habitat, it is important to provide various age classes of aspen. For example, an aspen age class of 1-10 years is an important source of ruffed grouse brood cover and a source of browse for whitetail deer. An aspen age class of 11-30 years provides an excellent source of escape cover. An aspen age class of 31-50 years provide ruffed grouse a food source in the form of male and female catkins (reproduction parts). For more Aspen Management recommendations, see the following link: Aspen Management in Michigan.

If private landowners want to manage for ruffed grouse, woodcock and whitetail deer habitat, mature to over-mature aspen stands must be clearcut (even-aged management) to produce new healthy stands of aspen.

Northern White-Cedar Management

Northern White-Cedar is a final successional tree species comprising nearly 2 million acres in Michigan with the vast majority of the acreage occurring in the Upper Peninsula. Associated tree species are balsam fir, black spruce, eastern hemlock, balm-of-gilead and black ash.

Northern white-cedar stands are generally long-lived, shade-tolerant, very slow growing and commonly found on cold, poorly drained alkaline soils. Northern white-cedar is extremely shallow rooted and often exhibits windthrow problems. Common timber harvesting practices are strip clearcuts and patch clearcuts (even-aged management) in order to naturally reproduce cedar via seeding. However, at our current population levels of whitetail deer, it is extremely difficult to naturally reproduce northern white-cedar stands. Northern white-cedar is an important source of winter thermal cover in the wintering yards of the southern Upper Peninsula and therefore, should be protected from detrimental logging practices.

Northern white-cedar swamps found within the whitetail deer wintering yards are crucial to the sustainability of the species. Well stocked northern white-cedar stands provide a tempering effect of our harsh northern winters. Within a well stocked cedar stand, winter temperatures may be 5-10 degrees (F) warmer than surrounding timber types. Winter snowfall may be 25-50% less beneath the northern white-cedar closed canopy. As land managers ,it is our responsibility to share these facts with our private landowners and implement forest and wildlife practices which lead to a sustained yield, all the while meeting the landowner's goals and objectives.

Red Pine Management

Red pine (Pinus resinosa) is typically planted and grown in the Lake States for future timber products.  Red pine seedlings are generally planted at 777-907 seedlings per acre. Thirty to forty years after planting, the first third-row thinning should be completed to create access throughout the plantation.  See picture to the right.  Subsequent individual selection thinnings should be scheduled every 12-15 years.  Red pine products generated through harvesting are softwood pulpwood, utility poles, dimension lumber and cabin sawlogs.  Red pine markets are very strong in the Great Lakes region with high demand for building and paper making products.  Landowners can expect good return on their investment.  Red pine plantations are utilized by a wide variety of birds, small and large mammals.  Wildlife usage is directly related to stocking levels, forest canopy closure, plantation age and forest floor vegetation.  Landowners who are considering reforestation of open grasslands should consider the moderate fast-growing Red Pine.  

For more Red Pine Management recommendations, please see the following:

Thinning Red Pine - MSU 

Red Pine Wildlife Considerations - MSU

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1705 4th Avenue North - Escanaba, MI 49829
Phone: (906) 786-3488 - Fax: (906) 233-9548

Dean R. Francis -
James T. Green -