Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources: Barry State Game Area


Barry SGA staff completed the Adaptation Workshop at a Forest Adaptation Planning and Practices workshop in winter of 2014. Many of these ideas have been incorporated into the updated Master Plan for the Barry State Game Area, which was released in 2015 and has a 10-year time horizon. Managers at Barry SGA are already implementing ideas for planting jack pine, bur oak, and soft mast-producing species.  

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is implementing adaptation actions to change forest cover types and add a diversity of hard and soft mast species for wildlife at a large State Game Area.

Project Area

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources manages 94 State Game Areas, parcels of land where the primary goal is to provide hunting and trapping opportunities for the public. Barry State Game Area (SGA) is the second-largest game area in the state at 17,000 acres. Currently, oak forest covers roughly 6,000 acres across the property, with most oak older than 70 years. There are also about 2000 acres of planted pines, nearly all of which are older than 50 years.

Management Goals

A wildlife opening at the Barry SGA.

The 2015 Barry State Game Area Master Plan is available below.  The overall objective of the Michigan DNR is to manage this property for for wildlife species such as ruffed grouse, wild turkey, cottontail rabbits, whitetail deer, and an array of songbirds. Historically, management actions at Barry SGA have been focused on maintaining a diversity of forest and grassland habitats, and maintaining wildlife openings and food plots.  Some specific habitat management objectives in the 2015 plan include: 

  • establish one savanna complex of approximately 150 acres within the SGA or in partnership with adjacent landowners 
  • harvest forested stands throughout the SGA over the next 10 years to increase early successional forest cover type 
  • establish a system for achieving an even mix of age classes of oak and oak/hickory forest within 20 year age class categories to ensure sustainable mast production

Climate Change Impacts

Conducting a prescribed fire at Barry SGA.
The manager for the Barry SGA considered broad climate change trends that are expected for southern Michigan forests and the site conditions across the property. She identified several risks associated with climate change, as well as several opportunities. Some of these include:
Several target oak species may benefit from warmer, drier conditions
Drier growing seasons could reduce mast production
Sandy soils and warmer, drier conditions could reduce competition from some non-target mesic tree species
Opportunities for prescribed fire may increase under future climate conditions
Red pine and jack pine might still retain some suitable habitat on drier, sandier soils across the site

Adaptation Actions

After considering the menu of adaptation strategies and approaches from the Adaptation Workbook, the Barry SGA manager generated several possible adaptation actions for forested stands. Many of these adaptation actions could be implemented immediately or during the next 10 years, and they are all designed to increase wildlife habitat into the future. Some of these adaptation actions include:

5.1. Promote diverse age classes.
9.1. Favor or restore native species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
Plant burr oak in the savanna creation areas
4.2. Prioritize and maintain sensitive or at-risk species or communities.
7.1. Reduce landscape fragmentation.
9.1. Favor or restore native species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
Establish a savanna complex of 150 acres in collaboration with adjacent landowners
5.1. Promote diverse age classes.
Establish a schedule to harvest oak stands to regenerate a younger age cohort on the landscape
Identify 800 acres of pine plantations with advanced regeneration of oak, and conduct thinning or final harvest of pine to promote oak.
9.2. Establish or encourage new mixes of native species.
Use red pine and jack pine as nurse trees for oak plantings, and harvest the pines as the oak establishes.
1.5. Restore or maintain fire in fire-adapted ecosystems.
Apply prescribed fire to favor oaks and other fire-adapted species.
Mast species
9.2. Establish or encourage new mixes of native species.
Plant persimmon as a fruiting shrub for soft mast.
5.1. Promote diverse age classes.
Harvest mature aspen clones to maintain a young age class on the landscape.

Project Photos

Click to enlarge photos

DNR managers accidentally ordered sawtooth oak, a southern oak species that is restricted as an invasive species in some states. These seedlings were planted after a review and they will be carefully assessed.

Project Documents

Next Steps

The DNR purchased seedlings of sawtooth oak for planing in 2016 because this species is a prolific acorn producer and it is regularly recommended for wildlife habitat. DNR managers later found out that sawtooth oak is not native and is actually prohibited as an invasive species in Wisconsin. After a quick assessment to gauge the invasiveness risk in Michigan, the DNR decided to plant the seedlings. They will monitor these seedlings closely and they will be removed if they start occupying too much territory. This accident has actually prompted the DNR to take a closer look at their internal policies and monitoring protocols, and they will be developing a formal assisted migration policy for climate adaptation projects, and they will be finalizing their terrestrial invasive species plan.

Learn More

To learn more about this project, contact Stephen


Oak, Savanna/ open woodland, Fire and fuels, Wildlife habitat

Last Updated

Saturday, December 10, 2016