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DNR to Thin 71 Acres at Hanson Hills

Tue, Jan  24, 2006 - By Justin Andre

I am sure many of you have seen the green painted trees along the blue, green and M-93 hills at Hanson Hills and wondered what the paint meant. The DNR used the paint to mark out 77 acres of forest at Hanson Hills for a selective cut.

The DNR Notice for the cut is below:


A forest treatment has been set up within Hanson Hills, a major recreation area. The overall goal of this 71-acre marked thinning is to maintain the forest’s long-term visual value by enhancing tree health, regeneration and diversity.

The two main tree species in this area – oak & aspen – are roughly the same age; they grew up together, are getting old together, and are not regenerating under the current closed tree canopy conditions. Mainly red maple is filling in from below as the overstory oak and aspen slowly lose vigor and die back. Because a healthy, diverse mix of tree species of different age classes is the best way to ensure the long-term visual value of this area, the marked thinning is designed to work toward that goal by doing the following:

  • Releasing the most healthy, vigorous oak trees from competition. Reducing competitive stress on these trees may lengthen their lifespan and help keep them as a component in the stand for a longer period of time.
  • Regenerating some oak. Oak can sprout back from the stump after the parent tree is cut. These sprouts make use of a pre-existing, extensive root system, giving them a head start on the competition and the potential to rapidly grow beyond the deer browse line.
  • Increasing the pine component. The treatment area has scattered mature red pine and white pine trees, with young seedlings and saplings below. This area historically supported a much more balanced mixture of pine and oak. All pine will be reserved so that it can continue to serve as a seed source and help move the stand back to a more natural and self-sustaining pine/oak composition.
  • Regenerating the aspen. Aspen is the second largest component within the treatment area and it is over-mature and declining. All of the trees occurring within aspen pockets will be removed in order to secure aspen root-sucker sprouting. This will create scattered one-quarter to two-acre openings that will rapidly be occupied by aspen regeneration.
  • Featuring the red maple. While red maple will be removed where it is in direct competition with reserved oak trees, individual stems will be retained for their outstanding visual value during the fall color season. Retaining red maple saplings & poles will also increase the age class and species diversity and maintain a multi-layered canopy.
  • Maintaining den trees. Hollow trees that have the potential to become wildlife dens - or are currently occupied - were targeted for retention where possible.

Contact Information:
Joan Charlebois, a DNR Forester, is the primary person responsible for setting up this treatment. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact Joan at (989) 348-6371 extension 7443, by email at, or by mail at 1955 N. I-75 B.L., Grayling, MI 49738.


I have attached pdf map (343Kb) of the cut area. A group of local skiers have been putting together a petition to stop the cutting.