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MICHIGAN FORESTS FOREVER TEACHERS GUIDE

 


WOOD USE      1TreeSign.jpg (13229 bytes)

Try to imagine all the things people use that are made from wood or have byproducts from wood in them.  Paper, cardboard, furniture, and lumber are obvious products.  The Temperate Forest Foundation, based in Oregon (this is also a good website designed with teachers in mind), claims over 5,000 items are wood-based, at least in part.   To see a list of several hundred products, click here.   Wood byproducts include such things as resins, cellulose (the main component of wood), chemicals, and other extractives.  But, wood products are also added to just about anything, including concrete, plastic, food, clothing, and metals.  Wood is also being more commonly used for heating, electricity, and transportation fuels.

ChartWoodConsume.jpg (30773 bytes)Each year on the average, every person uses more wood.  And, each year there are more and more people.  The wood comes from the forest, just one of many multiple uses of the forest.  Every day, the average person in the USA will consume about 4.5 pounds of wood, that's a little over a third of a two-by-four.  Over the course of a year, that adds up to a 16-18" tree, a hundred feet tall.  Those  trees come from the forest, of course.  Managing forests will provide more wood (and other outputs) in a shorter period of time.  Read an essay by Dr. Patrick Moore for a remarkable perspective on forestry, environmental challenges, and trees.

Where does our wood come from?

ChartTimberBase.jpg (36985 bytes)Most of our wood comes from our own country.  However, both Michigan and USA are net wood importers.  That means we use more wood than we grow.  Canada is our largest wood importer, especially softwoods (needle-bearing trees).  But sometimes wood comes from countries where environmental protection and forest management are inadequate.  Some would argue that we should be self-sufficient in wood.  That is probably a good idea in that we probably could produce the volume of wood used without negative environmental consequences.   However, some kinds of wood just don't grow in the USA.  And, good forest management is a positive economic development in other countries, as well as our own.  

How much wood do we harvest in Michigan?USAmap.jpg (44536 bytes)

A lot.  About 360 million cubic feet in 1992, and the amount has been increasing.  But how much is that?

Let's imagine a pile of eight-foot logs stacked four feet tall.  How far would that pile stretch?  3,457 miles!  And how far is that?   How about a round trip to from Detroit to El Paso, Texas!

Hmmm.  IS that a lot of wood?  In a way, sure.  But what can we compare that volume to?  Let's take a look at how much GROWS in Michigan each year.  Click on the USA map on the right.

 

15 LARGEST FORESTS IN THE USA BY STATE

By Volume By Area
Oregon
California
Washington
Alaska
Idaho
North Carolina
Georgia
Montana
Virginia
Maine
Pennsylvania
Alabama
Michigan
Colorado
Mississippi
Georgia
Alabama
Oregon
North Carolina
Michigan
Arkansas
Mississippi
Maine
Washington
California
Montana
Pennsylvania
Wyoming
Virginia
Alaska

Using the same wood pile scenario, the "annual growth" pile would extend 7,900 miles from Detroit to Seattle, then through Los Angeles, Houston, Atlanta, Boston, and back to Detroit!  That's 825 million cubic feet, over twice the amount that is harvested each year!  In Michigan, our timber inventory is climbing, and has been for many decades.  At some point, however, the gap between harvest and growth may narrow.  Biological maximums will be reached, evened the enhanced maximums through management.  Our forests are relatively young and growing vigorously.  Forest management can help keep them that way, resulting in both increased harvest AND higher growth rates.

The last question along these lines might be; "How much wood is standing in Michigan"?  Certainly, it's a huge volume of wood.  Michigan has the fifth largest forest (timberland) in the country, by area.  It's ranked #13 by volume.  If you use that same wood pile idea, the pile would stretch 288,723 miles!  That's around the Earth twice then off to the moon!  Or, around the Earth 11.5 times! 


Who owns the land where our wood comes from?

The table to the right shows "who" is producing the most wood among the three states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.  For the most part, both Wisconsin and Minnesota are more productive than Michigan! 

However, differences in forest composition help explain part of the variance.  Minnesota is much heavier to mature aspen, which has been extensively clearcut for harvest and regeneration.  Michigan has a greater area of northern hardwood types, which is typically thinned and selectively logged. 

By contrast and of special note is the top ranking of the Wisconsin Indian lands.  This is mostly due to forest management on the Menominee Indian Reservation where, oddly enough, most of the volume comes from selectively logged northern hardwoods!  The Menominees have some of the finest managed northern hardwood stands in the USA. 

Other differences between the three states are forest tax laws and commitment to private forest assistance by the state governments. 

 

Activity Suggestion
PLT We All Need Trees
 

REMOVALS BY OWNERSHIP
FOR MICHIGAN, WISCONSIN, AND MINNESOTA


Owner
Acres
(1000)
Removals
(1000 cubic feet)
1000 cubic feet
per acre
WI-Indian
MN-Federal
MN-County/Municipal
MN-Corporate
WI-Forest Industry
MN-Forest Industry
MN-Statewide
MN-Indian
MN-Individual
MI-Forest Industry
WI-Individual
WI-Statewide
MN-State Land
MI-Corporate
WI-County/Municipal
WI-Federal Land
MI-Federal Land
MI-County/Municipal
WI-Corporate
WI-State Land
MI-State Land
MI-Statewide
MI-Individual
MI-Indian
344
2,019
2,503
5,291
1,102
751
14,723
484
613
1,514
9,018
15,702
3,063
2,062
2,282
1,521
2,592
256
692
744
3,728
18,616
8,449
15
11,180
54,911
66,984
137,652
28,032
18,988
369,842
12,044
15,217
35,464
203,333
332,189
64,046
37,137
41,074
26,946
41,499
4,090
10,562
11,062
55,058
274,316
101,068
n/a
32.5
27.2
26.8
26.0
25.4
25.3
25.1
24.9
24.8
23.4
22.6
21.2
20.9
18.0
18.0
17.7
16.0
16.0
15.3
14.9
14.8
14.7
12.0
n/a
Source: Schmidt, 1996 (Wisconsin); Miles, Chen, & Leatherberry, 1990 (Minnesota); Leatherberry & Spencer, 1993 (Michigan).
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MCF Benchmarks
  S.III.5.ms6, S.III.5.ms7 

 

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MSUElogo.tif (16254 bytes) This website was developed and created by Michigan State University Extension for the teachers of the State of Michigan.  The website is maintained by the Delta-Schoolcraft Independent School District in support of the Michigan Forests Forever CD-ROM from the Michigan Forest Resource Alliance.

Page Name:   UseWood.htm
Please provide comments to Bill Cook:  cookwi@msu.edu or 786-1575