Problematic Red Pine Stands to be Removed
Forestry work to begin in January 2023
Newaygo, MI: The Newaygo County Park and Recreation Commission is moving forward in its first phase of forest stewardship work at Ed. H Henning County Park in January 2023. After completing a comprehensive Forest Stewardship Review and Planning Process, the disease prone and mature plantations of Red Pine were recommended for harvest to allow the native hardwood understory to be released.
The Park Commission is always looking to improve its natural areas and expand recreational offerings to visitors and residents. One such project that is partially complete is the new Muskegon River Bluffs Disc Golf Course. It was vital to the Park Commission that forest health be an essential aspect when considering this project. Therefore, Newaygo County contracted with Mark P Janke as their consultant, a Registered Forester overseeing forest stewardship planning and implementation. With Mark’s help, the County conducted a Forest Stewardship Review and developed a plan to best manage the forest lands at Ed H. Henning County Park.
Mr. Janke, who has decades of forestry experience, completed a comprehensive inventory and inspection of all the forest lands at Ed H. Henning County Park and worked with the County to develop an action plan to improve the forest lands and integrate the proposed disc golf course in the most sustainable way possible. One of the biggest resource concerns that Mr. Janke found at the property was the unhealthy 80+-year-old Red Pine plantations that were diseased and gradually deteriorating.
“While reviewing the property, it was clear that the large Red Pine stands were starting to become diseased/dying, which was spreading to uninfected Pines quickly. In addition, these pine stands are currently inhibiting the growth of a diverse and native understory of young hardwoods, and dying Pines pose a risk to park visitors if not addressed," explained Mark P. Janke, Consulting Forester.
In Red Pine plantations, the progression is a natural transition from pine to hardwood. The Pines act as a natural nursery environment for the young hardwoods to flourish, and as the Pines die off, the native hardwoods take over and result in a mature hardwood forest. Henning Park is currently in that transition stage, resulting in a number of dying trees standing close to Park areas. Removing the doomed Red Pine trees will accelerate the growth of the existing hardwood trees, improve the overall forest health, and make the Park safer for all visitors.
“Timber removal, especially on this scale, is not pretty, but in the end, it will improve the overall health of our forest at Henning Park. This is one of the reasons we are reaching out to let the public know that our end goal is to improve visitor safety and forest health,” explained Parks Director Nick Smith.
Later this month, crews from a local timber company, Outback Forestry, will begin removing the Red Pines from Henning Park. In addition to large-scale pine removal, some select hardwoods will be removed. While this is underway, timber crews will take special precautions to preserve the young hardwood understory so these trees can flourish once forestry activity is completed. Debris will be left on site and placed strategically to improve soil health and provide some animal habitats.
“We look forward to completing this first step in forest health improvement and seeing the hardwoods take over where the pines once stood,” said Mr. Janke.
Once completed, crews will enter the area and finish installing the disc golf course this year.
If anyone has questions about this forestry process or the Forest Stewardship Plan, they are welcome to contact the Parks Commission Office at 231.689.7340.