Rep. Dan Benishek, M.D. (MI-01) expressed his support for the U.S. Forest Service (FS) and Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNA) working together to sign a Good Neighbor Authority (GNA) master agreement.
The signing of the GNA master agreement, which is a result of work that began in the 2014 Farm Bill, supported by Rep. Benishek, will allow the State of Michigan to perform forest and watershed restoration services on federal forest system lands.
These joint efforts, a major goal of the 2014 Farm Bill, will work to improve management of federal forest lands.
The master agreement between the Hiawatha, Ottawa, and Huron-Manistee National Forests in Michigan and the DNR is one of the first GNA agreements in the nation.
“Ensuring that our forests in Michigan are both productive and well managed is one of my top priorities. Healthy, managed forests in our area provide a major source of revenue for our economy here in Northern Michigan, and I was proud to support these reforms in the Farm Bill. I look forward to continuing to work with both the Forest Service and MDNR to see these plans implemented,” said Dr. Benishek.
As Michigan’s only member of the Natural Resources Committee, Dr. Benishek is acutely aware of the importance of effectively managing Michigan’s forest lands.
The First District of Michigan is home to three national forests, which play a crucial role in the state’s economy.
Michigan’s forest products industry generates about $1.3 billion in economic activity per year and creates thousands of jobs.
In addition to maintaining healthy forest conditions, the partnership will also provide additional wood fiber to the forest products industry.
According to Bill O’Neil, Michigan’s state forester and chief of the DNR Forest Resources Division, “This partnership will allow for more timber sales, which means more work for local loggers and other forest products companies and great news for the state’s economy.”
The Good Neighbor Authority allows Michigan to work across jurisdictional lines with the federal government to preserve and manage forest lands. The unique insight provided by state foresters and officials should be key in preservation efforts, as well as economic advancements.