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Michigan has entered into a unique agreement with the U.S. Forest Service that will allow state natural resources officers to support conservation efforts in the national forests located here.

The “Good Neighbor Authority” pact will help bolster work being done in the forests, Ottawa and Huron-Manistee national forests located in the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula. Details of the kind of work to be done in each of the forests will be hammered out in individual contracts in the coming weeks.

“Good Neighbor Authority Projects will expand our capacity to achieve forest management outcomes described in the forests’ 2006 Land and Resource Management Plans,” said Kathleen Atkinson, the U.S. Forest Service’s eastern regional forester, in a statement. “I’m excited to have a new tool that allows us to work together in unprecedented ways into the future.”

Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials will assist in restoring forest, range-land and watershed areas of the national forests. It’s an arrangement federal officials believe will benefit the communities where the work is done. It will include revenue generated by timber sales from the forest lands where the work is done.

“This authority is a significant way for the Forest Service to partner with state agencies to make improvements to the land, benefiting local communities and their economies with timber receipts generated from Good Neighbor Authority,” Atkinson said.

Michigan’s top forestry official said the arrangement also helps the state meets its own goals laid out in at the Forest Products Summit of 2013 – objectives that included boosting the timber industry’s state and regional impact from $14 billion to $20 billion.

“We very much appreciate the willingness of our federal partners to undertake this pilot program in Michigan,” said Bill O’Neill, Michigan’s state forester. “This program is a tribute to the leadership of the U.S. Forest Service to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of forest management.”

JLynch@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2034

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