Susan Thiel, Unit Manager,
at 989-348-6371 x 7440

The unit encompasses approximately 279,000 acres of State-owned land within a four county region: Crawford, Oscoda, Alcona, and the north half of Iosco counties.

Grayling Management Unit

Click on the map to view the Grayling Forest Management Unit

Scroll to the bottom of the page for more information on current management strategies and specific State Forest compartments

Inventory Schedules

The Open House: Your Opportunity to Participate
Each year, management recommendations are presented at open houses. As the name implies, open houses are informal sessions that give citizens an opportunity to speak with foresters, wildlife biologists, and other resource professionals. The inventories, compartment maps, and recommended management actions are available for the public to look at and provide suggestions to MDNR staff.
2020 Year of Entry Open House Schedule

The Compartment Review: The Final Plan
Modifications to the management recommendations are then incorporated into a finalized compartment plan to be presented at the "compartment review". The compartment review is a formal presentation that incorporates information from the initial inventory, the multi-disciplinary input period, and the open house. The presentation outlines the formal management plan for the compartment and includes an explanation of forest treatments if any are proposed.
2019 Year of Entry State Forest Compartment Review Schedule

2015 Fuelwood Maps

For more information:

Learn about the Grayling Management Unit

Unit staff are tasked with management activities on state forest lands, wildfire protection on all ownerships across the unit, and administration of an extensive motorized recreational trail system in the four counties. Central headquarters for the unit is located at the Grayling Field Office, with satellite offices located in the communities of Mio and Lincoln. The area is unique in many respects. It contains the entire watercourse of the Au Sable River, a designated natural river and a nationally recognized trout stream. It also contains the headwaters area of the Upper Manistee River, another blue ribbon trout stream and designated Natural River.

The Unit contains a wide variety of forest types, ranging from northern hardwoods to oak, aspen, and jack pine plains. Vast portions of the unit are covered by nearly continuous jack pine forests, making the area especially vulnerable to wildfires.

Crawford County was home to the famous Stephan Bridge fire in 1990. This fire burned 5,916 acres in less than five hours, wiping out homes and causing $5.5 million in damage.

kirtland's warblerThis combination of jack pine forests and repeated fires helped establish the area as prime nesting habitat for the endangered Kirtland's Warbler. As a result, over 54,000 acres of land have been set aside in the Unit to be managed specifically for this tiny bird's nesting habitat.

Campground SignOne feature that distinguishes the Unit is that it is home to Camp Grayling, training grounds for the National Guard. Some type of Military use agreement affects 47% of the total acres in the Unit. Crawford County contains approximately 132,000 acres of Camp Grayling National Guard Camp on which the DNR manages the surface resources. Within those 132,000 acres, the Military has leased approximately 53,000 acres in perpetuity from the State of Michigan (i.e.; long-term lease lands) for training purposes. Approximately 20,000 more acres in Crawford County are under a short-term lease agreement, which is reviewed and renewed every ten years. The remaining lands are either part of the initial Hanson gift that established the camp, were purchased with Military Board funding, or ownership was transferred from the state of Michigan to Department of Military Affairs via a deed transfer. While the Military does not have absolute control over this entire acreage (specifically short-term lease lands), they do exert a significant influence on the management practices. Click here for a map showing military lands

The Grayling FMU has a very active forest management program largely due to the fact it contains large acreages of forested lands that are centrally located near several wood mills. Harvests ranging from clearcuts of jack pine and aspen forests to thinning of oak and hardwood stands occur year around to regenerate stagnating forests and wildlife habitat while simultaneously providing wood products and commodities for public use. Averages of 4000-5000 acres are treated annually via some type of harvest and regeneration activity.

The Grayling FMU is heavily involved with recreational management: The unit contains 19 State Forest Campgrounds, including 3 horse trail camps and several canoe campgrounds. The Shore-to-Shore Riding and Hiking Trail traverses the unit, connecting three trail campgrounds.

trails forest hiking

Snowmobiling is of great economic importance to the area, having approximately 165 miles of groomed snowmobile trails. The Unit also contains approximately 321 miles of ORV trail, 22 miles of ORV routes, and 89 miles of MCCCT trail. It contains several hiking and cross-country ski trails, including the Mason Tract Pathway and a portion of the Midland to Mackinaw Hiking Trail. The Grayling Area offers hundreds of acres of diverse wildlife habitat, creating wonderful hunting and trapping opportunities for deer, grouse, turkey, bear, and small game. The unit also contains many informal access points along the two river corridors, providing multiple access opportunities for fishing, canoeing, swimming, and other river recreation. Fishing opportunities abound with multiple quality trout streams, inland lakes, and access to Lake Huron.

Popular Rustic Wedding Venues for the AuSable State Forest, Crawford County

The Grayling FMU is home to the following unique management areas:

Deward Tract DeWard Tract: The DeWard tract is a 4,720 acre special management area located in Antrim, Crawford, Kalkaska, and Otsego Counties. Plagued by damage from motorized vehicles, this special area was designated in 1980 to protect the Upper Manistee River Corridor. Today lush vegetation and wildlife in the area attribute to the success of the protection measures put in place. A majority of the Tract (2,470 acres) is managed by the Grayling FMU. Access is restricted in the area to protect the Upper Manistee River corridor and to provide a "quality" fishing experience. Camping is limited to within 50 feet of roads posted as open to protect this sensitive river corridor. The area encompasses the site of the historic lumbering village of DeWard. It also contains the only Pine Stump Preserve in Michigan. In 1958 an area of 42.5 acres was dedicated as a Pine Stump Preserve in efforts to protect evidence of the early logging efforts in Michigan. Several foot access sites are maintained throughout the DeWard Tract providing user access to the river.
DeWard Map

deer Hanson Game Refuge: The Hanson Refuge is a tract of approximately 20,000 acres located in southwest Crawford County. Deed restrictions have designated these lands as a "game preserve", deeming them as closed to hunting and trapping.  The Hanson Refuge is also home to Hanson Hills Recreational Area. Managed by the Crawford County Recreational Authority, Hanson Hills provides an extensive cross-country ski and mountain bike trail system, as well as downhill skiing and other recreational trail programs. The DNR manages the surface resources of Hanson lands; hence management efforts have to be closely coordinated to minimize impact on these areas' recreational trails and activities.
Map of the Hanson Refuge

The Beal Plantation: The Beal Plantation is possibly the oldest known plantation in North America. Professor Beal planted over 5,000 trees of 76 species in 1888. The plantation is home to multiple research activities. A parking lot was developed along with an ADA accessible interpretive trail in year 2000, highlighting the unique features of the plantation. For detailed directions to the Beal Plantation, visit

Mason Tract: A 4,493 acre special management area along the South Branch of the AuSable River designed to protect the quality fishing waters of this area. The Mason Tract originated from acceptance of a 1500-acre gift from The George Mason family in 1954. Over time, additional acreage has been acquired from the US Forest Service and private individuals through land exchanges. The Mason gift was contingent the area be used as a permanent game preserve, no part shall ever be sold by the state, and no camping be allowed in the area for 25 years. The State of Michigan has continued the no camping restriction in the Mason Tract. The only camping allowed is within Canoe Harbor State Forest Campground, located at the north end of the Tract on the AuSable River. The Mason Tract offers quality fishing, hunting, and canoeing opportunities. The Mason Tract is home to the pristine Mason Chapel. The Mason Family constructed the Chapel in 1960 to provide fishermen with a place of reverence and has developed into a popular tourist attraction. The Mason Tract also contains the Mason Tract Pathway, which is used for hiking and cross-country skiing. Mountain biking on the Mason Tract Pathway is prohibited via a Director's Order
Mason Tract Special Management Area

Pine Barrens Area: The Grayling Unit currently has two areas designated for Pine Barrens management. Pine Barrens is currently a rare ecosystem that is typically inhabited by many threatened and endangered species. It occurs in jack pine forests frequented by fire. In 1997, DNR staff worked to develop a management plan for the 1,400-acre "Frost Pocket" Pine Barrens area in Oscoda County. The "Frost Pocket" is one of the purest Pine Barrens systems remaining in Michigan. A detailed plan of timber harvesting and regular prescribed burning was outlined to restore this rare ecosystem. To date, active management and regular burns have occurred in the "frost pocket". Most recently, a plan was developed to restore an additional 5,120 acres of pine barrens identified in Crawford County. This area occurs within Camp Grayling; so extensive planning with the National Guard has occurred. The "North Camp Grayling Pine Barrens Management Plan" has been completed and is awaiting approval of the National Guard and DNR Divisions before prescribed harvesting and burning practices are instituted.

Partnerships on the Grayling FMU: The Grayling FMU is part of multiple partnerships, helping to make many projects possible.

workers in RiverCooperative efforts with local RC&D and SCD Offices, the AuSable River Restoration Committee, the Upper Manistee River Restoration Committee, and various Trout Unlimited Chapters have allowed restoration of many erosion sites along waterways. In year 2000, many of these partners worked on a woody debris project, involving harvesting of whole trees, including roots, and placing them by helicopter along crucial stretches of the AuSable River in an effort to improve river habitat. This project was so successful; this type of restoration is being extended along other stretches of the Au Sable and Manistee Rivers.

Hartwick Pines State Park: Grayling FMU staff regularly work with park staff providing forestry expertise and assisting with the park's annual Forest Fest celebration.

Events at Hartwick

The Mason Tract Northern White-Cedar Restoration Project:
helping handsLong-lived Northern White-Cedar Trees are an important part of the ecosystem along river corridors. It is felt juvenile cedars are missing due to browse from deer and hare. It is feared without intervention, the cedars will die and will no longer be a component of this ecosystem. Members of the Upper AuSable River Preservation Association and Huron Pines RC&D Area Council are working with the MDNR to try to re-establish young cedar seedlings along the AuSable River Corridor within the Mason Tract. This partnership involves having various groups planting cedar seedlings, caging planted and naturally existing seedlings for protection, and watering new plants to assist with establishment. Our goal is to plant and protect 2000 seedlings by year 2009 and remove enclosures within 15 years of planting. The project is still in its infancy, with the first plantings performed in 2004.


2019 YOE Compartment Maps

All State Forest Compartment Review maps and documents are drafts to be used for general planning purposes. Links to these documents will be removed after the review occurs.

For a map of the Grayling Forest Management Unit's 2019 compartments, view the Grayling Locator Map.

The Grayling Forest Management Unit has 2019 YOE Review packets available for the following compartments. The packets were posted 09/15/2017 unless noted otherwise:

The Grayling Unit's 2018 YOE Compartment Review was held on Nov. 1, 2017. The following linked document presents the changes and decisions made at this Compartment Review to the Inventory Database, Reports, and Compartment Maps, presented at Open House, for the Grayling Forest Management Unit. This document is the official record of changes and decisions.

Grayling Record of Changes and Decisions - Posted

Ecological Reference Area Plans

State Game Area Area Plans

Archived State Forest Compartment Maps

2018 YOE Compartments
2017 YOE Compartments
2016 YOE Compartments
2015 YOE Compartments
2014 YOE Compartments
2013 YOE Compartments
2012 YOE Compartments
2011 YOE Compartments
2010 YOE Compartments
2009 YOE Compartments
2008 YOE Compartments
2007 YOE Compartments