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Old-growth forests show what Michigan looked like before Paul Bunyan

Forest road
Flickr user christopherpeplin
Most of Michigan's forests were cleared at some time during the late 1800s logging boom.

In some parts of Michigan, there are forests that can take you back in time. Old-growth forests of towering trees offer a rare glimpse at what Michigan looked like before the logging boom of the late 1800's.

Donald Dickmann, a professor in Michigan State University's Department of Forestry, told Stateside where visitors can see stands of old-growth trees in Michigan.

Most old-growth trees have been around for several hundred years and Dickmann said there are still many places around Michigan where people can visit these remnants of Michigan's early forests. 

Old-growth trees in the Upper Peninsula and other parts of Northern Michigan contain pines and hardwoods, Dickmann said.

He said HartwickPines in Grayling is the best place in Northern Michigan to view mature white pines. 

In the southern Lower Peninsula, stands contain old-growth hardwoods like beech-maple and oak trees. Visitors to Newton Woods in Russ Forest can see “some really big hardwood trees,” Dickmann said.

A full list complied by the Department of Natural Resources shows every park in Michigan with remnants of early forests.

Yet old-growth forests are not permanent, Dickmann said. The trees eventually will die and fall over. That said, the various agencies managing forests in Michigan all have plans to set aside areas for future old growth forests.

For the full interview, listen above. It includes Dickmann's description of old-growth forests' "otherworldliness." 

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