The Nature Conservancy Completes First Timber Harvest at Slate River Forest Reserve

Trees were hand felled across 74 acres, consistent with forest management practices at Slate River for decades.

Aerial of gap in the forest canopy on a sunny day.
Slate River Forest Reserve A gap in the forest canopy created by the removal of an individual tree. Gaps allow younger trees to grow and creates opportunities for more diverse species to regenerate.

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BARAGA COUNTY, Mich. — The Nature Conservancy in Michigan (TNC) recently completed the first timber harvest at its Slate River Forest Reserve. This is the first timber harvest at the reserve since TNC purchased the more than 10,000 acres in 2021. The sale was planned, prepared and marketed by TNC and Huber Resources Corp. foresters. Timber Products, who operates a saw and veneer mill in Munising, purchased the sale. They contracted with two hand felling crews and two truckers to harvest and move the wood.

“The family that previously owned what is now Slate River Forest Reserve were exceptional stewards of the land and we’re proud to implement similar forest management practices that have been used for more than 60 years to keep the forest vibrant and healthy,” said Alex Helman, forest project manager for TNC in Michigan. “By conducting periodic, small-scale harvests, we can help younger trees grow into the canopy, encourage higher tree species diversity in the forest, create or enhance wildlife habitat and cultivate high quality sawtimber.”

Typically, harvests using single tree selection only remove about a quarter to one-third of the volume in the forest, meaning most of the trees remain standing following a timber harvest. By selecting each tree to be removed, the forester can improve or maintain the health, resilience and diversity of the forest, while maintaining or improving important environmental services the forest provides, like carbon sequestration, filtering water and providing habitat.

TNC’s working forests are certified sustainable by the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) FSC®-C008922, a third-party body that ensures forests are managed sustainably by protecting water resources, wildlife habitat, neighboring communities and the other important roles that forests play.

TNC purchased the 10,550 acres of the Slate River Forest Reserve in 2021 to conserve and protect its beautiful woods and waters while continuing the careful management of forest resources. The carbon stored by the towering hemlocks, maple and other hardwood trees contributes to this reserve's role as a natural climate solution.

The reserve also protects several streams flowing directly to Lake Superior, including almost four miles of the Slate River with cascades, waterfalls and an extraordinary gorge as well as three miles of the Ravine River.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 70 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.