Michigan Technological University - Piney Woods Stand

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Michigan Technological University faculty and staff are planning management actions for a unique stand of native-origin red pine on University-owned land. 

The Michigan Technological University (MTU) Research Forest covers more than 5,500 acres of forest land across the western Upper Peninsula, and this land base provides valuable opportunities for research and training for the MTU community. Near the northeast edge of the Baraga Plains, MTU owns a 160-acre, natural-origin red pine stand that dates to the early 1900s. Because natural-origin red pine stands are rare in the region, school forest managers would like to maintain this stand for its genetic and ecological value.  A few of their goals are to encourage natural regeneration of red pine, white pine, and northern red oak while producing large-diameter trees for timber on an extended rotation.

 

Climate Change Risks and Opportunities

MTU faculty and staff considered broad climate change trends that are expected for the western Upper Peninsula and the site conditions on this particular parcel of land. They identified several risks associated with climate change, as well as several opportunities.  Some of these include:

  • The primary target species in this stand are not expected to experience declining suitable habitat (red pine, white pine, northern red oak).
  • Reduced summertime soil moisture could cause problems with regeneration and recruitment
  • Wildfire risk is already high and may increase in the future, because of a thick needle layer on the forest floor and proximity to jack pine forests on the Baraga Plains.
  • More frequent and intense storms could increase wind-throw risk for canopy trees.

Adaptation Actions

After considering the menu of adaptation strategies and approaches from the Adaptation Workbook, MTU foresters generated several possible adaptation actions that could be implemented at the Piney Woods stand. Adaptation actions could be implemented at smaller scales as part of controlled treatments, which could increase the usefulness of this site as a demonstration site. Some of these adaptation actions include:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current Project Status

MTU staff completed the Adaptation Workbook at a Forest Adaptation Planning and Practices workshop in June 2015. This management unit with the MTU School Forest is up for review in 2016, so a larger committee of MTU faculty and staff will be discussing management options for the Piney Woods stand. This committee will strive to balance the goals related to research, education, ecological sustainability, and economics. 

 

Updated 7/27/15.