State foresters are trying to salvage some value from certain trees before pests take it all. Emerald ash borer and beech bark disease have moved quickly into northern forests in the last couple of years. Both kill infected trees.
State foresters have a federal grant to look closely at about 30,000 acres in the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Michigan. They’ll concentrate on areas where ash and beech are dominant and are growing on highly productive forestland.
“Some of the stands hopefully will have advanced regeneration say of other species such as oak and black cherry and maybe some white pine and that will take its place,” says Bob Hyde, who tracks exotic forest pests for the state Department of Natural Resources in Marquette.
The DNR may shift some of its budget next year to harvest ash and beech stands in northern forests where ash borer and beech bark disease are moving in quickly. The agency may also have to find funding to replant areas to keep lesser quality species from moving in.
“Maybe by next year, depending on how budgets look, (we’ll) make a decision where we might want to go in there and do some, I guess you’d call it, pre-emptive harvesting,” he says.
When large stands of ash or beech die, it opens up the forest to other invasive plants and lesser value species.
Foresters would only harvest in areas where there is more than one ash or beech in every ten trees.