DNR Plans to Remove Acres of Trees

The state could remove trees near a popular Northern Michigan recreational trail, it’s not sitting well with some people.

The DNR held their annual open house to share information on upcoming tree removal projects. One proposed project includes the removal of trees near the VASA Trail in Grand Traverse County.

People for and against tree removal showed up to tonight’s open house. And the DNR gladly listened to all opinions. “We want to give folks an understanding of what we proposed and why we proposed it and some of the measures we’ve taken to protect those interests like recreation and scenic values,” says Tim Webb, DNR Forester.

Six treatment plans are being proposed for thousands of acres in Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau and Manistee counties. “A lot of the treatments focus on capturing some of the wood value from that Aspen before it becomes horizontal, blowing down, dying on its own,” says Webb.

Hunters completely understand the importance of the tree removal. “We want to see older Aspen stands be regenerated which means clear cutting them so they sprout back up and are about to support the game species and non game species that need that type of forest,” says Eric Ellis, Ruffed Grouse Society.

But some who love the VASA Trail in Grand Traverse County are concerned about the short term effects. “People like to see trees, they’re visually pleasing and that’s why we like the VASA forest and why we like to recreate there,” says Curt Peterson, user of VASA Trails. 

But in the end, most agree the DNR foresters know what they’re doing and hopefully will find some common ground. “They’re looking at the health of the forest for the long term so it’s a tough balancing act to meet the recreational users needs of today with the long term health of the forest,” says Peterson.

The DNR will have another open house tomorrow at its Kalkaska Office. They’ll make a final decision in about two weeks and then the tree removal will happen in 2016.