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Michigan TU News:

Forests and Water


Michigan is blessed with an abundance of fresh water. Our state has 36,000 miles of rivers, more than 11,000 inland lakes, and is surrounded by four of the Great Lakes, the largest body of fresh water on Earth. Michigan has so much water that we usually take it for granted. But clean, fresh water is not infinite or free, and everyone in Michigan should value our outstanding fresh water resources.


Land use has significant impacts on water quality and quantity, and forests are important for providing abundant clean water. About 80 percent of the surface freshwater in the United States originates in our forests that cover only 34 percent of our nation’s land area. In Michigan, forests cover 56 percent of our land, and play a vital role in producing clean water for domestic, agricultural, industrial and ecological needs. Abundant clean water originating from Michigan’s 20 million acres of forest land might be as valuable as the $20 billion forest products industry that supports our rural communities, but water is harder to quantify than wood. Sustainable forest management is able to simultaneously produce wood products for human use, ecosystem services like clean water, beautiful places for recreation and quality habitat for animals and fish. Foresters and loggers should always implement relevant “Best Management Practices” to protect soil and water quality because the clean water provided by Michigan’s forests is essential for humans, animals, fish and other aquatic organisms.


Forests for Fish is a new name for an old idea. American foresters have recognized the important connection between forests and water for over a hundred years. The federal Organic Act of 1897 stated that America’s national forests were established “to improve and protect the forest within the reservation, or for the purpose of securing favorable conditions of water flows, and to furnish a continuous supply of timber for the use and necessities of citizens of the United States.” Water has long been valued as an important forest product.



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