What is the Forestry Assistance Program (FAP)?

Do you have forested property in Mason, Lake, or Manistee Counties?  Do you have questions about forest management options, wildlife habitat, or other natural resources topics?  Are you interested in having somebody speak about natural resources or conduct forestry-related demonstrations and workshops?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, contact Josh Shields, Outreach Forester with the Mason-Lake and Manistee Conservation Districts.

Through the Forestry Assistance Program (FAP), Josh provides technical assistance to private landowners and conducts outreach events such as forestry-related presentations, workshops, and training sessions.  FAP, funded by Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), is implemented by Michigan Conservation Districts so forestry information and assistance can be delivered to you at the local level.

If you own forested property, Josh will meet with you for free, conduct a site assessment, and address your questions and concerns, whether they be about timber harvesting, wildlife habitat, forest ecology, or forest diseases and pests.  He will also discuss your goals and provide you with information about state and federal assistance programs, tax incentive programs such as the Qualified Forest Program (QFP), and contact information for natural resource professionals that can help you see your goals come to fruition.  Furthermore, Josh conducts demonstrations pertaining to forestry and related topics; gives presentations about natural resources to environmental groups, clubs, and other organized groups; and provides training sessions pertinent to forestry, habitat management, and other facets of natural resources management.

Enroll in the Qualified Forest Program (QFP)

For eligible forestlands, Josh can assist with preparing an application for enrolling in the Quality Forest Program (QFP), whereby private landowners who actively manage their can receive certain reductions in property taxes.

Basic Eligibility Requirements for QFP

  • You must own a forested parcel that is at least 20 acres.
  • If your forested parcel is 20-39, acres, ≥ 80% must be productive (producing ≥ 20 cubic feet of wood per acre per year).
  • If your forested parcel is at least 40 acres, at least 50% must be productive (producing ≥ 20 cubic feet of wood per acre per year).
  • You find a Qualified Forester to write a management plan.  A Qualified Forester must be 1) certified by the Society of American Foresters (SAF), 2) a Forest Stewardship Plan (FSP) writer, 3) a Technical Service Provider (TSP) registered with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for Forest Management Plan Development, and/or 4) a Registered Forester, or 5) a forester with the Michigan Association of Consulting Foresters (ACF).

Benefits of QFP

  • You would receive a maximum 18 mill reduction of school property taxes.
  • Public access on your land is not a requirement.
  • You will learn about forest management and contribute to regional economies by practicing sustainable timber harvesting!


MAEAP Forest, Wetlands, and Habitat*A*Syst

Landowners, are you interested in adopting better practices to protect your forest, wetland, or other habitat?  The Forest, Wetlands, and Habitat*A*Syst (FWH*A*Syst) is part of the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) and provides a way for you, the landowner, to examine and improve your current management practices in order to minimize negative impacts to the land and the water.  By getting your property MAEAP verified through the FWH*A*Syst, you are playing a positive role in the protection and sustainable management of our natural resources.

There are several steps involved to get your forest, wetland, or other habitat MAEAP verified through the FWH*A*Syst:

  1. Have a management plan written by a professional in the field of natural resources. This professional can be a forester, ecologist, or other natural resources professional.
  2. Meet with a Conservation District Forester and/or a MAEAP technician to complete the FWH*A*Syst risk assessment. The questions from the risk assessment are used to determine which of your practices need to be improved to minimize environmental impacts. A plan of action must be developed for any practices that need to be improved.
  3. Fulfill the MAEAP Phase 1 education requirement by attending a Phase 1 educational session or by viewing online Phase 1 media.
  4. Once you have fulfilled the education requirement and have developed a plan of action to improve practices that do not meet the MAEAP standards, you may contact an official MAEAP verifier to you have your forest, wetland, or other habitat verified through the MAEAP FWH*A*Syst.
  5. Upon successful verification, you will receive a sign that you can proudly post on your property!

Michigan’s American Tree Farm System (ATFS)

Landowners, are you interested in adopting better practices in order to practice sustainable forestry? The Michigan American Tree Farm System (ATFS) provides a way for you, the landowner, to examine and improve your current management practices in order examine and improve your forest management practices. By getting your forested property certified in ATFS, you are playing a positive role in the protection and sustainable management of our natural resources. Furthermore, any wood products that are extracted from your property are considered certified as originating from a forest that is being managed using sustainable practices per the requirements of ATFS.

There are several steps involved to get your forest certified through ATFS:

  1. You must own 10 to 10,000 acres of forest.
  2. Get a written forest management plan that addresses the ATFS Standards of Sustainability.
  3. Request a property inspection with an ATFS certified inspector. Josh Shields is a ATFS certified inspector.
  4. ATFS certified inspector visits your property to match your forest management plan and activities to the ATFS Standards of Sustainability.
  5. If approved, you will receive an ATFS certification sign that you can post on your property!


CLICK HERE for updates about presentations, training sessions, and important news relevant to forestry.

Landowners – CLICK HERE for a list of tree planters, or to find an arborist or logger.

Landowners - CLICK HERE for information about the MAEAP Forest, Wetland, and Habitat*A*Syst"

Foresters – CLICK HERE for information about parcels owned by landowners who wish to hire a forester.

CLICK HERE for a list of forestry programs and other organizations.

CLICK HERE for links to forestry educational tools.

Please visit the Manistee Conservation District website for other website links and updates.

Contact Josh Shields:

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Office Phone: 231-757-3707 (Mason-Lake) or 231-889-9666 (Manistee)

Mobile Phone: 989-220-9236