Information for Plan Writers

Overview of the Forest Stewardship Program
Forest Stewardship Logo The Forest Stewardship Program provides professional planning and technical assistance to family forest owners throughout Michigan to encourage nonindustrial private forest landowners to actively manage their forest to accomplish their own unique goals for their land.  The Forest Stewardship Program is funded by the United States Forest Service and administered by the Department of Natural Resources.


The Michigan Forest Stewardship Program relies heavily upon private sector foresters to deliver the professional planning to landowners.  The DNR trains and certifies professional foresters and wildlife biologists to write Forest Stewardship Plans that meet USFS guidelines.  DNR Service Foresters review all Forest Stewardship Plans to ensure quality and consistency throughout the Program.  There are about 140 Plan Writers in Michigan in 2016.  More information about how the DNR administers the Program in Michigan is available in the Statewide Plan for FY2015.

Benefits for Plan Writers
The primary benefit of becoming a certified Plan Writer is the opportunity to advertise your services to the 400,000 family forest owners in Michigan through the Forest Stewardship website that lists certified Plan Writers. The Program seeks to actively promote all Plan Writer’s qualifications, services offered, and participation in related programs.

Certification through the Forest Stewardship Program is also an indicator of quality plan writing and professional services.   The USFS and DNR require conformance to standards that demonstrate high quality work to your clients.

The Program also provides a partial cost share to help lower a landowner’s cost for developing a Forest Stewardship Plan.  The cost share is not intended to provide a substantial portion of the landowners cost.  The Plan Writer is able to determine their fees for developing a Plan.  The cost share also offsets the additional work for the Plan Writer to submit their Plan for review by the DNR.  The cost share is delivered to the landowner through a grant to the Plan Writer rather than directly to the landowner as this lowers Program administrative costs.

The Michigan Forest Stewardship Program is committed to maintaining flexibility and simplicity while administering a government program.  The Program seeks to make it easy for both Landowners and Plan Writers to participate in the Program by requiring only a single form to enroll in the Program and offering year-round enrollment.  Clear guidelines for concise Forest Stewardship Plans are meant to offer Landowner assurance of a quality plan and the expectation of a fair review process for Plan Writers. Requests for exceptions to the Program rules will always be considered.

For more information about becoming a certified Plan Writer, please contact Mike Smalligan, the Forest Stewardship Coordinator, at 517-284-5884 or .

Forest Stewardship Plan Requirements
The Michigan Forest Stewardship Program does not add State requirements in addition to the USFS guidelines for Forest Stewardship Plans.  The Plans must include all required components and describe the important natural resource elements present (or absent) on the property.  A thorough description of the expected contents of a Forest Stewardship Plan is described in the Statewide Plan for FY2015.

All forms required for a Plan Writer and a Landowner to participate in the Program are provided on this website.


DNR Forest Stewardship Coordinator
Mike Smalligan, Lansing

DNR Service Foresters
Western Upper Peninsula
Gary Willis, Baraga
906-353 – 6651     
Eastern Upper Peninsula
Ernie Houghton, Escanaba
906-786 – 2351 

Lower Peninsula
Mike Hanley, Haslett
517-284 – 5865

Additional FSP Information
FSP Home
Professional Planning for Landowners
Find a Certified Plan Writer
Technical Assistance for Landowners
Outreach and Education Grants