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DNR state forest carbon projects

An elk standing in a field with fall trees in the background

DNR state forest carbon projects

Generating carbon credits from state forest lands

Michigan’s forests provide natural benefits including clean air and water, wildlife habitat, scenic places for recreation, renewable forest products and carbon storage. Carbon storage is achieved when trees absorb carbon dioxide gas from the air. A single mature tree can absorb 48 pounds of carbon annually.

Industries that produce carbon emissions may purchase carbon offset credits, investing in forests as carbon sinks, or storage areas. Carbon offset credit projects support natural climate solutions on working forest lands. Revenues will be invested into DNR sustainability, climate change adaptation or mitigation efforts.

Forest program information

Big Wild Forest Carbon Project

The Big Wild Forest Carbon Project started in 2020. It is the first in the nation to leverage the carbon storage capacity of trees on state forest lands. This pilot project, taking place on over 100,000 acres of the celebrated Pigeon River Country State Forest known as "The Big Wild," creates a portfolio of carbon offset credits generated from sustainable forest management activities. Project development was completed in 2022 with DTE Energy purchasing the first decade of carbon offset credits. The total project term is 40 years. 

Wolverine-Copper Country Forest Carbon Project

The success of the pilot project led the DNR to begin developing a second forest carbon project in 2022, known as the Wolverine-Copper Country Forest Carbon Project. This project is located on over 120,000 acres in the northern lower and western upper peninsulas, including the iconic Jordan River valley and the remote and rugged tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula. Contractor Anew Climate is currently seeking a buyer for carbon offset credits from the Wolverine-Copper Country carbon project.


Forest in Michigan's upper peninsula

Project locations

A bull elk stands in a golden autumn forest

Pigeon River Country State Forest

The 109,000-acre Pigeon River Country State Forest is the heart of Michigan’s elk range, and through it flows several premium cold-water trout streams, including the Sturgeon and Pigeon rivers. This area is appreciated for its wilderness-like feel. This working forest is managed with sustainable harvest practices and enhanced carbon sequestration so it can continue to be used and enjoyed by present and future generations.

A sunlit area by the water in the Jordan River Valley

Jordan River Valley

The Jordan River Valley is a premier forest recreation destination valued for its scenic vistas including Deadman’s Hill overlook. The Jordan River running through the valley is Michigan’s first designated natural river and is a cold-water trout stream. The area’s thousands of acres of forests provide diverse habitat for many types of birds such as owls and the state-threatened red shouldered hawk.

A sunlit bike trail in a rolling forested area

Keweenaw Management Area

The tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula is a nationally renowned mountain biking and hiking destination. It is also a significant location for birders and wildlife watchers who enjoy the sights of this migratory flyway and glimpses of protected wildlife species. The Keweenaw, a biodiversity hotspot, is surrounded by the shoreline of Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world, and through it runs the Montreal River. 


Contact and carbon credit purchases

Interested in purchasing carbon credits to offset those produced by your business? Contact Ben Massie for more information. Contact Josh Strauss for general inquiries regarding carbon projects and Anew Climate.

Contact Scott Whitcomb or David Price for DNR information about forest carbon projects.

  • Companies that produce carbon emissions can offset this negative impact to the environment by purchasing carbon credits from entities that reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. One carbon credit equals 1 metric ton of carbon dioxide emission. In this case, state forests absorb carbon as trees grow, locking it into wood and forest products manufactured from harvesting trees. Carbon offset credits represent measured and modeled carbon maintained in the growing state forest and durable wood products such as lumber. 


  • The sale of carbon credits is one strategy that will help Michigan along the path to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. Michigan is the ninth state in the nation to make a commitment to 100% economic carbon neutrality.
  • This project will help advance Michigan’s commitment to action as part of the U.S. Climate Alliance.
  • Will help meet United Nations Sustainable Development Goals related to clean water, economic growth, sustainable communities, responsible production and consumption, climate action and others. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is the primary international, intergovernmental forum for negotiating global responses to climate change.

  • The DNR is using the American Carbon Registry's Improved Forest Management Methodology for non-federal U.S. forestlands. Carbon offset credits from the projects are registered with the ACR. The ACR is a nonprofit enterprise of Winrock International, founded in 1996 as the world's first private, voluntary greenhouse gas registry.

  • Anew Climate, formerly Bluesource, is the contracted developer of DNR carbon projects. Anew is a climate action partner that has pioneered creative climate solutions since 2001. With deep expertise across environmental technologies and markets and hundreds of projects in the United States and Canada, Anew is a leader in voluntary, compliance and pre-compliance carbon markets.

  • Funds from the sale of carbon credits are re-invested into the Forest Development Fund and Game and Fish Fund, which supports DNR climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.

  • This project will help the DNR to adapt to climate-related requirements in forest management standards for forest certification, to which the DNR must use for the sustainable management of state forest lands.

    Sustainably managed forests provide a variety of benefits to people and nature including clean air and water, wildlife habitat, scenic places for recreation, renewable forest products and carbon storage.

  • Management of state forest resources and the sale of carbon credits are intended to be complementary. Commercial timber harvest for forest growth and wildlife habitat objectives are specifically compatible with forest carbon projects. Carbon credits can be generated from the management of state forest resources as governed by approved DNR forest management plans. It is not anticipated that the carbon projects will appreciably affect management and timber harvests levels from the forest. Any changes in management will be driven by any future changes to DNR forest management plans, which are updated every 10-years and are subject to public review prior to adaptation.

  • Landowners participating in carbon offset projects are not liable to repay offset credits if there is an unintentional, natural loss of forest carbon stocks, such as the effects from a fire, storm, disease or insect damage, in an ACR-registered carbon project. The ACR Improved Forest Management methodology requires that a risk-based proportion of the total carbon credits generated by registered projects be allocated to a communal 'buffer pool' (like a group insurance policy) that projects can draw from in the event of a natural loss of forestland for any project. The DNR would not have to pay back the money received from the project.

  • DTE Energy announced a commitment to purchase offset credits generated from the first 10 years of the Big Wild project. DTE Energy will offer these offsets to its larger industrial natural gas clients seeking to reduce the impact of carbon emissions, much as they do for their residential and small business customers, through DTE's voluntary Natural Gas Balance program. The DNR plans to partner with carbon buyers that are implementing meaningful measures to reduce their carbon footprint.