Michigan’s forests underused, experts say

By ELIZABETH FERGUSON
Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan could be getting a lot more out of its forests.Most of the state’s harvested timber is sold as logs, but more jobs and dollars could be generated by turning those forests into products such as syrup, furniture and ethanol, according to the Michigan Forest Biomaterials Initiative.“Right now we are shipping logs out of the state, and losing a lot of potential value,” said Mark Rudnicki, a professor at Michigan Technological University and executive director of the initiative.The forest initiative is a group of experts in industry, academia and state government looking to grow Michigan’s economy by promoting better use of the state’s forest resources, Rudnicki said.
Michigan has 20 million acres of forest land, including 13 million privately or corporately owned, said Debbie Begalle, assistant chief of the Department of Natural Resources Forest Resources Division.
Because the Upper Peninsula has most these forest assets, products could be created in communities close to the timber’s source, bringing job growth to those areas.
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