My sister and I got into a lively discussion while driving alongside the Thunder Bay River last weekend. I was lamenting the loss of old growth forests and the cathedral like quality of the trees and mossy undergrowth found in these rare climax habitats. I was also complaining about the logging done this year in the Mackinaw State Forest surrounding Avery Lake near Lewiston (which is a sister lake to Highland's jewel Dunham Lake due to its vast expanse of treed, pristine shoreline). My sister insisted that if nature had its way, our Michigan forests would be regularly burned down with fire. True! Yet I countered that because humans have so messed up the natural process that created our woodlands, we can no longer sit back and wait for nature to shape the environment. The biggest disappointment to me is the DNRE policy of planting vast stands of red pine, creating a forest monoculture devoid of the diversity of plants and trees that our wildlife need to survive. I contend that we need to return our state forests to a more natural blend of oak, hickory, maple, birch, pine and other native trees that would provide a wide and varied habitat for our birds, insects, reptiles, mammals and amphibians. It would take centuries to achieve the old growth forest that I pine for (sorry, couldn't help it). Even so, this is the direction we need to move in. Our beautiful land should be used for more than just growing plots for the state's timber trade. For more information, visit this link to an article on the importance of old growth forests:http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=old-growth-forests-help-combat-climate-change
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