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Posted on: July 21, 2023

Township Manages Forest at Airport

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The township’s Campbell Pratt Airport on Old Onaway Road has a substantial forest resource on the property. For obvious safety reasons, trees must be kept away from the runway. And during high winds or crosswinds, trees along the runway can affect the aircraft on approach when the plane drops below the tree line.

The township must balance its safety concerns along with good forest management which could also provide a small amount of revenue for airport operations and maintenance. The local DNR forester recommended a DNR registered forester to help manage the resource. Michigan's registered foresters are highly qualified professionals who can help landowners manage their forest land.

The forest on the Indian River Airport Property is a mixture of species, largely composed of aspen and red maple. Both aspen and red maple are relatively short-lived tree species. The aspen is mature to over-mature; rot is present in a significant portion of the aspen trees.

After a detailed analysis, our forester told the township “that if not harvested soon, the aspen will die off and the timber will be lost, as well as the ability for the aspen resource to regenerate itself.”

Aspen, and to a lesser degree red maple, are shade intolerant species, requiring nearly full sunlight to aggressively regenerate naturally. Hence, the reason for a cut prescription for forest management - allowing nearly full sunlight to reach the forest floor and promote the vigorous growth of new aspen trees, as well as red maple and other species. However, leaving the red and white oak under 12" in diameter will not hinder the aspen growth, while providing an acorn seed source for oak tree regeneration.

So, in three to five years, the aspen, red maple and other tree species regeneration should be a quite dense new young forest. The aspen will probably range from 5' - 15' tall in 3 to 5 years.

In summary, by harvesting the timber now, an older forest is being replaced by a younger, healthier forest and at the same time, providing forest products.

To address safety, the township will add an additional 10 foot cut on both sides of the runway. The township will also leave a forty-foot buffer of existing forest adjacent to local property owners land.

This year the township has budgeted $21,350.00 for airport operations and maintenance. 

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