About Us

Mission:

To bring together foresters, loggers and fisheries biologists to improve how “Michigan’s forests provide abundant clean water and quality fish habitat.”

Overview:

“Forests for Fish“ is a three-year project to bring together foresters, loggers and fisheries biologists to improve how “Michigan’s forests provide abundant clean water and quality fish habitat.” Forests for Fish will connect foresters and loggers with fisheries biologists to discuss how forest management and wood in water can improve fish habitat. Forests for Fish will provide advice to landowners and anglers on how they can manage their forest for clean water and quality fish habitat. Forests for Fish will develop educational materials for landowners, anglers and natural resource professionals on how forests provide the clean water that benefits humans, animals and fish.

Forests for Fish provides financial incentives for landowners, foresters and loggers. Landowners who join the American Tree Farm System are able to get a free site visit at their forest with a forester and cost share to develop a Forest Stewardship Plan to manage, protect and enjoy their forest and water resources. Consulting foresters who attend a workshop will get reduced costs to join the Michigan Association of Consulting Foresters. Loggers and industry foresters who attend a workshop will get reduced costs to join the Michigan Association of Timbermen.

Forests for Fish is a new name for an old idea. American foresters have recognized the connection between forests and water for over a hundred years. The federal Organic Act of 1897 stated that America’s national forests were established “to improve and protect the forest within the reservation, or for the purpose of securing favorable conditions of water flows, and to furnish a continuous supply of timber for the use and necessities of citizens of the United States.” Water has long been valued as a forest product that everyone needs.

Michigan is blessed with an abundance of fresh water. Our state has 36,000 miles of rivers, more than 11,000 inland lakes, and is surrounded by four of the Great Lakes, the largest body of fresh water on Earth. Michigan has so much water that we usually take it for granted. But clean, fresh water is not infinite or free, and everyone in Michigan should value our outstanding fresh water resources.

Land use has significant impacts on water quality and quantity, and forests are important for providing abundant clean water. About 80 percent of the surface freshwater in the United States originates in our forests that cover only 34 percent of our nation’s land area. In Michigan, forests cover 56 percent of our land, and play a vital role in producing clean water for domestic, agricultural, industrial and ecological needs.

Abundant clean water originating from Michigan’s 20 million acres of forest land might be as valuable as the $20 billion forest products industry that supports our rural communities, but water is harder to quantify than wood. Protected forests and well managed forests produce essential wood products, ecosystem services like clean water, beautiful places for recreation and habitat for animals and fish. Foresters and loggers implement relevant “Best Management Practices” to protect soil and water quality because the clean water provided by Michigan’s forests is essential for humans, animals, fish and other aquatic organisms.

The DNR Forest Resources Division is the project manager for Forests for Fish. Partners include the DNR Fisheries Division, Michigan Trout Unlimited, Michigan Tree Farm Committee, Michigan Association of Timbermen, Michigan Association of Consulting Foresters and the United States Forest Service. Forests for Fish is funded by the United States Forest Service, State and Private Forestry.

For information about Forests for Fish, contact Mike Smalligan, the DNR Forest Stewardship Coordinator at 517-284-5884 or smalliganm@michigan.gov.

Michigan Forest Magazine article written by Matt Modlin, Michigan Trout Unlimited