A tamarack (Larix laricina) stand

A tamarack (Larix laricina) stand, one of the species being planted in Michigan with this project. Credit: Steven Katovich/USDA Forest Service/Bugwood.org

A quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) stand

A quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) stand, one of the species being planted in Michigan with this project. Credit: Steven Katovich/USDA Forest Service/Bugwood.org

Project Location:
Muskegon County, Michigan

Key Activities:

  • Planting 20,000 trees across 26 acres
  • Restoring wildlife habitat
  • Engaging 150 students and volunteers as tree stewards

Project Description:
Partnering with the Muskegon Conservation District, Alcoa Foundation and American Forests are planting 20,000 trees across 26 acres of a conservation easement in Michigan to help restore wildlife habitat.

Why This Project:
Once covered with experimental red pine stands, the project area has suffered from disease and insects, causing the harvesting of the red pine stands and leaving a barren landscape in the wake. Using a variety of native trees and shrubs — including red cedar and white cedar, Canadian hemlock, white spruce, tamarack, quaking aspen and American mountain ash — this project is restoring wooded area to this community along the eastern coast of Lake Michigan.

Currently, the area is a habitat and food source for whitetail deer, eastern wild turkeys and relatively low numbers of songbirds and small mammals, but with these new plantings, the aim is to increase the forest’s wildlife population by providing year-round food, cover and nesting areas.

What Happened to the Red Pine:
Red pine’s natural habitat range extends from the Canadian provinces of Newfoundland, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba south to northern states like Minnesota, Pennsylvania and New York. Historically, the red pine was also a major component of the Lake States, such as Wisconsin and Michigan, but populations were depleted due to harvesting practices in the 1800s.

In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps planted an extensive amount of red pine in Michigan to reestablish the native species. Now, though, many of those stands are suffering from poor management or, in the case of the Muskegon project area, disease and insects. There are a number of insects that negatively affect the red pine: redheaded pine sawfly, saratoga spittlebug, pine bark beetle, sphaeropsis, white grubs and scleroderris. Reestablishing red pine, therefore, must be selective and based on areas that are currently healthy and insect and disease free.

Interested in the other Michigan reforestation projects in which we’ve been involved? Check out our Michigan Global ReLeaf projects.