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Escanaba’s Dean Francis named 2021 Stewardship Forester of the Year

The award is presented annually at the Michigan Association of Consulting Foresters meeting.
The 2021 Stewardship Forester is Dean Francis of Upper Michigan Land Management & Wildlife...
The 2021 Stewardship Forester is Dean Francis of Upper Michigan Land Management & Wildlife Services in Escanaba. Francis was given the award in February to recognize his 30 years of great customer service to woodland owners, work with local school forests and assistance to other consulting foresters.(Michigan DNR)
Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 4:47 PM EDT
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ESCANABA, Mich. (WLUC) - The 2021 Stewardship Forester is Dean Francis of Upper Michigan Land Management & Wildlife Services in Escanaba. Francis was given the award in February to recognize his 30 years of great customer service to woodland owners, work with local school forests and assistance to other consulting foresters.

The Stewardship Forester award recognizes the important role of 155 private sector foresters who serve Michigan’s 400,000 family forest landowners. The award is presented annually at the Michigan Association of Consulting Foresters meeting.

Since 1992, Francis has written 561 stewardship plans covering 78,063 acres. That makes him the most prolific individual forester in the Michigan Forest Stewardship Program. His clients use their plans to achieve their goals and complete  projects in the woods such as planting trees or harvesting timber to improve wildlife habitat.

Forest stewardship plans provide a great return on investment when a landowner uses a plan to create income with a timber sale or to lower their property taxes in the Qualified Forest or Commercial Forest programs. About 42% of Francis’ clients also hired him to implement their plans and administer 235 timber sales that generated $6.9 million in revenue for the landowners. These sales contributed 148,000 cords of pulpwood and 7.8 million board feet of saw logs to local forest products companies.

Forestry experience, education both come into play

Francis obtained his forestry degree in 1988 from Michigan State University and started his career with the Oceana and Newaygo conservation districts. He worked for Grossman Forestry in Newberry for six years before starting his own consulting company in 1998. Francis and his business partner, Todd Green, (a 1996 graduate of Michigan Technological University’s forestry program) provide a variety of consulting forestry services for landowners including forest management plans, improving wildlife habitat, removing invasive species, tree planting, timber trespass, expert witness, administering timber sales, creating early succession habitat and seeding for conservation cover.

Francis is a member of the Association of Consulting Foresters and the Society of American Foresters. He is a registered forester in Michigan, a Tree Farm inspector, a technical service provider and a Qualified Forester.

Dennis McDougall, with the U.S. Forest Service, said he appreciates the work Francis does.

“The most important thing a landowner can do to manage their woods is also the simplest: Seek professional advice. Consulting foresters like Dean have the skill and experience to help landowners achieve their ecological and financial goals,” he said. “Dean’s achievements as a forester are impressive not just for the number of plans written, but because his clients implemented their plans and created local jobs, wood products, clean water, clean air, better habitat and income for the landowner. Truly a win-win.”

You can find other consulting foresters throughout Michigan at ACF-foresters.org.

Landowners can get help from a variety of programs

The American Tree Farm System is a community of forest owners that provides recognition of excellent forest management and helps people share their woodland legacies with their families.

Landowners can get money and advice from the Natural Resources Conservation Service to improve wildlife habitat in their woods, build stream crossings to protect water quality, address forest health issues or fix soil erosion problems.

The Forest Stewardship Program connects landowners and their families with foresters to help them develop plans to manage, protect and enjoy their woods and water. Over the last 30 years, more than 6,800 landowners have developed custom stewardship plans to take care of 1.1 million acres of Michigan’s forests.

The Forest Stewardship Program is funded nationally by the U.S. Forest Service and administered in Michigan by the Department of Natural Resources. All partners are equal opportunity providers and employers.  For more information, contact Mike Smalligan at 517-449-5666.

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