Southern Lower Peninsula
Don Klingler, Resource Protection Manager
The Forest Resources Division's Southern Lower Peninsula Management Unit (SLP) consists of 38 counties which encompasses roughly the area south of M-20 from Oceana County to Saginaw County and includes the entire thumb area. Most of the state lands in the SLP are managed by either the Wildlife Division or the Parks and Recreation Division. Information about Wildlife Division can be found at: http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10370---,00.html and information for Parks and Recreation Division can be found at: http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10365---,00.html
The offices of the SLP are located in Plainwell, Allegan, Muskegon, and Yankee Springs to the west, and, Rose Lake, Brighton, Imlay City and Cass City to the east. There are two Forest Fire Supervisors, five Forest Fire Officers, one Forester assisting timber management on Wildlife managed lands, and one Private Lands Forester currently staffed in the SLP. The Private Lands Forestry program has staff housed in our division office in Lansing as well. Office contact information can be found at: http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-30301-332109--,00.html
The primary duties of the Forest Fire and Forest Management staff includes fire suppression, fire prevention, fire equipment maintenance, fire training for staff and local fire departments, prescribed burn planning and implementation, administering the Federal Excess Property program, Forest Stewardship Program and administering the Snowmobile Trail program. The Forester assigned to the Plainwell Office assists Wildlife Division with the management of the forest resources in concert with wildlife objectives with these lands.
The fire staff in the SLP work closely with local fire departments to provide expertise in wildland fire suppression and also in joint command on more complex incidents. The Forest Fire Supervisors in the SLP are Type 3 Incident Commanders. The local fire staff are trained and experienced in suppression techniques. The equipment in the SLP is designed specifically for wildland fire and is available at all offices. The SLP has experienced significant wildland fires in the past and these fires often involve structures and values in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), the area where development meets the wildland, where fires threaten those values. Many areas in the SLP have soils that when dry can burn and become what are called "ground fires" or fires that burn deep into soils such as peat and muck. These fires often require a tremendous amount of water and time to extinguish and can last for weeks. Another significant fire issue in the SLP is cattail and phragmites fires along the lakeshores. These fires will burn very hot and can burn very fast threatening values along our coastlines.
This picture below is a fast moving grass fire threatening homes along the Lake Michigan shoreline.
Prescribed Burning Program
The Prescribed Burning Program is a very important part of the tool kit for habitat and landscape management, especially in the SLP. The fire staff along with the Lower Peninsula Fire Specialists work closely with Wildlife and Parks Division staff to evaluate areas that may need to be burned to manage threatened and endangered species, maintain or improve important game habitat, and control invasive species. The SLP once had large areas of prairie, savannas and barrens which require periodic fire to maintain and restore them. Annually we conduct, on average, 78 burns for approximately 4500 acres and the majority of these burns take place in the SLP.
In the SLP the fire staff participates and plans many fire prevention activities and Smokey Bear makes his rounds from schools to fairs to special events and parks. Fire safety education for our citizens; especially our youth, about being careful with fire when outdoors is critical to public safety, firefighter safety, and the protection of the values we enjoy. The Firewise Program provides important information to home owners about the protection of their property both before and during a wildfire. Information about Firewise can be found at: http://www.firewise.org/
For information about prevention programs or Smokey Bear please feel free to contact one of our fire staff at the offices mentioned above.
The Federal Excess Property Program (FEPP) provides quality used equipment from the federal government to state and local emergency services agencies. A good portion of the DNR fire equipment is FEPP equipment that we have converted to fire equipment at the Forest Fire Experiment Station in Roscommon.
Local fire departments also benefit from this program as much of this equipment is passed on to local agencies through our depot at Rose Lake. This includes equipment such as pick up trucks, military 5 ton 6x6 trucks, tankers, and fuel trucks all to be converted to fire department engines. There also comes available at times water pumps, spare parts, generators and fire engines. This surplus equipment helps support local fire agencies by reducing the need to purchase new equipment.
Forest Resources Division staff administers this pass through program and information about the Federal Excess Property Program in Michigan can be found by contacting Jack Schultz at 517-373-1218 or by visiting www.michigan.gov/excessfireequipment.
A full-time forestry position has been established to work with Wildlife Division staff to incorporate the timber values inherent in many of the state game areas. Wildlife and timber management often go hand-in-hand in providing habitat goals as well as healthy and diverse forest ecosystems. This partnership between wildlife and forestry will be further developed in landscape planning, inventory and wildlife and forestry goals.
DNR Forest Resources Division Fire Protection page: www.michigan.gov/firemanagement.