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Pilot initiatives

Forest innovation

The way we work in Michigan's forests has come a long way since the lumber heyday in the 1800s. Today, forest managers work to improve forest health, boost wildlife habitat, conduct sustainable harvests to produce renewable goods and ensure that we'll have forests today and for future generations.

Here are some pilot programs the DNR is exploring to benefit the environment and Michigan communities. 

A DNR forest health expert teaches a class of university students

State forest carbon credits

The DNR has initiated a pilot project exploring opportunities to produce carbon offset credits on state forest lands.

The purchase of carbon credits generated through sustainable forest management is an emerging way for businesses to offset emissions that they cannot otherwise reduce.

Funds from the sale of carbon credits help forest managers to invest in practices that can help mitigate the adverse effects of climate change on forests. These practices include planting more trees to store carbon and introducing new tree species that may be better adapted to future climate conditions. 

Learn more about forest carbon and the Big Wild Forest Carbon Project

Growing mass timber construction

The DNR is making strides to develop the use of an innovative, sustainable building method called mass timber. Mass timber allows for construction of large and tall buildings using engineered wood panels, boasting features such as:

  • Renewable forest materials
  • Proven fire and seismic resistance
  • Fast construction; 25% faster on average
  • Lighter than concrete and steel
  • Aesthetics of natural wood grain
  • Build multistory wood structures
  • Ability to prefabricate panels offsite

The DNR is working with partners at Michigan State University and the Michigan Forest Biomaterials Institute to improve knowledge of this method and grow its use in our state. The DNR is building a new Upper Peninsula Customer Service Center in Newberry that will be constructed to showcase mass timber techniques.

An open space built of mass timber with an industrial look and warm, modern wood paneled ceilings and beams
A field of solar panels and green grass

Turning brownfields to brightfields

Brownfields, including some former mining sites and old landfills, are often difficult to redevelop due to environmental issues. These and other areas of state forests that are not productive for growing trees can host solar arrays. Constructing large-scale solar arrays, called "brightfields," on these sites is a way to put public lands back in productive use and produce clean, renewable energy, helping the DNR and Michigan achieve sustainability goals.

Through a competitive process, the DNR has agreements with a large-scale solar array company for two pilot sites. The two sites are the 593-acre former Groveland Mine in the Upper Peninsula's Dickinson County leased by Circle Power Renewables, and the 169-acre 7 Mile Pit in the Lower Peninsula's Crawford County leased by Copper Country Power, LLC.

These projects will repurpose underused public lands for greater benefit, increase the local tax base and diversify energy sources.

Learn more about the Groveland Mine Solar project from Circle Power Renewables

We're pledging to plant 50 million trees - join in!

The DNR will be a cooperative partner in planting one trillion trees by 2030 through the global Trillion Trees campaign. To further this goal, the DNR has pledged to plant 50 million trees by 2030 and aims to inspire people to plant trees. 

You can lend a hand! Plant a tree and add it to our tree-planting map to watch the canopy grow. This will set the foundation for healthy urban and rural forests so we can enjoy them today into the future. Now is the time for trees – plant it forward! 

Learn about our tree-planting pledge