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FSP - Information for Landowners
Michigan is home to almost 19 million acres of forest land, and almost 65 percent of that is privately owned. The 8.4 million acres of non-industrial privately owned forestland in Michigan provides benefits to the landowner, local communities, and the larger landscape. Forestland owners are as diverse as the land they hold, including people such as residential landowners, farmers, hunting clubs, and people who own land for recreational purposes like hunting, hiking, 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. Once a stewardship management plan is prepared, the landowner may then qualify for assistance in management implementation through other assistance programs: Other Assistance Programs For Non-industrial Private Landowners. 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.
Type of program: The Stewardship Program 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 Stewardship Program 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. Landowners in the program pay approximately 50% of the cost of the plan development, or up to a cap (see below). The remaining 50% of the costs will be paid by the State directly to the contactor.
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 MDNR. This list contains private consultant foresters who can assist with the development of a Forest Stewardship Plan. In order to qualify for cost share funds, the consultant 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, site, number of stands, etc. The total cost of the plan is negotiated between the plan writer and the landowner. Solicitation of multiple bids is encouraged. Landowners are not required to select the lowest bid.
There is, however, a set fee that may be reimbursed for an eligible and approved plan under the Forest Stewardship Program. The formula is: $300 base, plus $1.25 per acre (maximum $2,000) OR 50% of the cost of the plan, whichever is less.
The landowner must pay at least 50% of the total plan cost.
For example, on a 40-acre parcel, the cost share reimbursement varies depending on the total cost and the formula, the box below outlines three hypothetical bids:
|40 Acre Property
|FS Program Pays:
|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 MDNR.
Process for having a Forest Stewardship plan written:
- Landowner selects a Certified Plan Writer and they enter into a written agreement.
- Together the landowner and Certified Plan Writer complete the Michigan Forest Stewardship Assessment Form (PR4061) and Stewardship Plan Eligibility Application and Invoice (PR4065-3).
- Certified Plan Writer submits the application to MDNR Service Forester for project eligibility approval.
- Certified Plan Writer writes plan. The plan must include all information required by MDNR.
- Landowner signs and accepts plan.
- Landowner pays Certified Plan Writer (minimum of 50% of plan costs).
- Certified Plan Writer submits plan to MDNR Service Forester for review and approval.
- MDNR Service Forester reviews, approves, or disapproves (note: plans will not be approved for payment if there are outstanding omissions of required components).
- If approved, DNR Service Forester forwards to the Stewardship Coordinator for reimbursement to consultant forester.
- If the plan not approved, the consultant and he landowner are advised so that corrections can be made to qualify the plan.
- Certified Plan Writer is reimbursed in accordance with guidelines.
Once the plan is completed, the landowner should use the recommendations in the plan as a guide to implementing proper forest practices. Landowners should be aware that:
- The landowner decides which recommendations to follow. Plan implementation is completely voluntary.
- When implementing practices, the landowner is not required to hire or use the person who wrote the plan. Some plan writers provide a full range of consulting services, and others do not. The decision of which provider to use, what services to purchase and at what cost, is strictly up to the landowner. If you need additional information, contact the MDNR Service Forester in your area.
Please contact the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), Forest Resources Division Staff:
- Service Foresters
- Stewardship Coordinator
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.