Traverse City Record-Eagle

Record-Eagle 150th Anniversary

July 18, 2009

A reforestation timeline 1887-2009

During the 1870s and 1880s, forest fires burned millions of acres in central Michigan and the Thumb -- sometimes more than once. Here's a brief history of the state's reforestation effort that started before lumbering died:

n 1887 -- First Michigan Forestry Commission sanctioned, then repealed in 1892.

n 1888 -- First out-state test tree planting at Grayling, Oscoda and Harrison experiment stations.

n 1891 -- More major fires in the Thumb.

n 1893 -- State gets power to take over cutover lands.

n 1899 -- Forestry Commission revived and Legislature endorses concept of public-owned forests.

n 1900 -- More than half of Michigan is deforested by this time. First state lands set up for reforestation.

n 1903 -- First state forests created in Roscommon and Crawford counties.

n 1904 -- First state tree nursery established at Higgins Lake. Huron National Forest is created.

n 1905 -- U.S. Forest Service is established.

n 1908 -- Metz forest fire in northeast Michigan kills 29, destroys 2.3 million acres. Property losses total $28 million. Public concern grows.

n 1910 -- Marcus Schaaf is appointed the first state forester. He retires in 1949.

n 1911 -- Existing state forests include the Fife Lake Reserve, Forest of Lakes Reserve in Grand Traverse and Kalkaska counties and the Luce County Reserve with a total of 16,800 acres in Kalkaska, Cheboygan, Presque Isle, Fife Lake and Ogemaw counties.

n 1915 -- State has 235,000 acres of state forests and 300,000 acres in other classifications.

n 1917 -- Oval Wood Dish Co., Traverse City's major employer, leaves Traverse City.

n 1920 -- A Detroit News story questions why the state's Fish, Game and Wildlife Department spends less than $100,00 a year in firefighting and loses $750,000 a year in soil and timber.

n 1921 -- Forestry scientist and instructor P.S. Lovejoy writes magazine and Detroit News stories, reporting that one-third of the state is "bankrupt" because of 10 million acres of "idle" and sandy timber cutover lands in northern Michigan. Gov. Alex Groesbeck asks Legislature to create Department of Conservation.

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