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FSP - Information for Landowners

Introduction 

The Forest Stewardship Program is a partnership between the United States Forest Service and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The purpose of the program is to encourage long-term stewardship of private, non-industrial forests because less than 4% of family forest owners in Michigan have a forest management plan. Non-industrial private landowners have almost 9 million acres of the 20 million acres of forest land in Michigan, and these forests provide benefits to the landowner, local communities and the larger landscape. The half million owners of forest land in Michigan are as diverse as the land they hold, including non-residential landowners, farmers, naturalists, hunting clubs, timber producers, and people who own their land for recreational purposes like hunting, hiking, camping, bird watching and snowmobiling.

Actively managed forests provide timber products; other products like nuts, mushrooms, and medicines; wildlife habitat; reservoirs of habitat for rare or endangered species; cleaner air through carbon sequestration; cleaner water and flood control; incredible scenic beauty; recreational opportunities and many other benefits for landowners and society. Forest Stewardship is the act of caring for a forest so that it sustains health, vigor, and ecosystem function for the future. A Forest Stewardship Advisory Committee meets quarterly to advise the Michigan DNR regarding program priorities for funding received.

The Forest Stewardship program provides financial and technical assistance to Michigan's non-industrial private forestland owners. By providing cost share funds for land management planning, sound management practices are promoted that consider elements important to forest health and vigor: soil, water, wildlife, timber, wetland, and other resources and resource values. Forest Stewardship plans help create informed landowners who become more engaged in planning and managing their forests. This greatly increases the likelihood that their forests will remain intact, productive, and healthy; and, that the social, economic, and environmental benefits of these lands will be sustained for future generations.

The program provides landowners with the professional planning and technical assistance they need to keep their land in a productive and healthy condition. To enter the program, landowners select a private resource consultant from the list of Certified Stewardship Plan Writers maintained by the State. In partnership, the landowner and the consultant will identify the management objectives for the property. For some landowners, enhancing wildlife habitat for a particular species may be the most important objective; others may wish to manage their land for some type of recreation or for timber outputs. All are valid objectives under the Forest Stewardship Management Plan. Implementation of the plan is entirely voluntary, although most landowners indicate a desire to move forward with management implementation once a plan is created to their specific objectives.

Program Overview

Type of program: The Forest Stewardship Program (FSP) is a cost-share program that pays a portion of the total costs of creating a forest management plan to a Michigan certified plan writer. The landowner pays the remainder of the cost. We hope this investment will encourage the landowner to engage with the contractor, implement the plan, and maintain healthy forested conditions into the future.

Financial Incentive: The FSP helps private landowners offset the initial costs of developing a management plan for their forested property. The landowner selects and hires a private consultant forester to aid them in developing management goals and objectives, evaluate the property, and prepare a Forest Stewardship Plan. The FSP pays a cost share directly to the plan writer based on their having a grant from the DNR and a formula to determine the cost share. The current formula for fiscal year 2014 is: $300 per plan plus $1.25 per acre (maximum $2,000) up to 50% of the cost of the plan. Landowners must pay the plan writer the portion of the total plan fee that is not covered by the cost share to the plan writer.

Eligibility: The property must be a minimum of 12 contiguous acres with five currently wooded.

Process: Once a landowner has decided to have a plan written, he/she selects a certified plan writer from the certified plan writer list maintained by DNR. This list contains private consulting foresters who can assist with the development of a Forest Stewardship Plan. In order to qualify for cost share funds, the consulting forester selected must be certified as a Stewardship Plan Writer.

The landowner and plan writer agree to a cost for the plan. The cost of the plan will vary depending on several factors including acreage, location, number of management units, expertise of the plan writer, additional information above the minimum requirements, intensity of the forest inventory, etc. The total cost of the plan is negotiated between the plan writer and the landowner. The DNR does not control total plan costs so a landowner should compare prices and review sample plans from multiple plan writers.Solicitation of multiple bids is encouraged. Landowners are not required to select the lowest bid. The DNR must report matching funds to the United States Forest Service so landowners must report the amount they contribute to the total cost of the plan, which must be at least 50% of the total plan cost.

The cost share funds are paid directly to the Stewardship Plan Writer after the plan is completed, accepted by the landowner, and approved by DNR.

Questions?

Please contact the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), Forest Resources Division Staff:

Forest Stewardship Program is administered by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Forest Resources Division and funded by the USDA Forest Service, State and Private Forestry, under Part 501 of Act 451, P.A. 1994, as amended and the US Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978, CFDA 10.664.

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