Forest Sustainability

Jeremy Lowell - Program Coordinator
Carter Rogers - Assistant Program Coordinator

Bay County Building
515 Center Avenue, Suite 503
Bay City, Michigan 48708-5941
Voice: (989) 895-4195

Forest Sustainability Advisory Committee

The Forest Sustainability Advisory Committee is a citizen group that directs the actions of the Bay County Forest Sustainability Program by reviewing and recommending the "plans of actions" which guide the program. Members are appointed by the County Executive and include representatives from the nursery industry, the municipalities and other interested citizens. The committee generally meets 2 times a year; in the Spring and the Fall, and meetings are open to everyone.  You can check out the Forest Sustainability Advisory Committee Mission Statement as well as the Committee Background and History.

Next Meeting of the Forest Sustainability Advisory Committee: End of April 2024 at TBA 


Forest Sustainability Advisory Meeting Agendas

Forest Sustainability Advisory Meeting Minutes

Forest Sustainability Advisory Committee Background and History
The spongy moth (formerly known as the gypsy moth) was introduced into the United States from Europe in 1869. Defoliation caused by the spongy moth was reported in the Boston area shortly after its introduction. Since then, it has spread throughout the Eastern seaboard, south to the Carolinas and east into Wisconsin and Missouri.

The first defoliation by the spongy moth in Michigan was reported near Lansing in 1954. The Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) conducted spray operations in Ingham and it's neighboring counties that used DDT in an effort to eradicate spongy moth populations found in those areas. As new infestations were discovered, regulatory policy shifted from trying to eradicate the spongy moth to a policy of containment in the mid-1980's. In 1987, Midland, Isabella and Saginaw Counties joined with the MDA to conduct control operations since they had rapidly expanding spongy moth populations that defoliated large tracks of woodlot. By 1988 the defoliation had risen to more than 70,000 acres in thirteen counties, including several hundred acres in Bay County's Garfield Township. In response to this massive population build up and numerous calls from concerned land owners, the County Executive, with concurrence of the Board of Commissioners, appointed a Gypsy Moth Advisory Committee (now the Forest Sustainability Committee). This citizen's advisory group recommended that Bay County join the Michigan Department of Agriculture's Voluntary Gypsy Moth Suppression Program control efforts. The MDA Program was a grant program that provided guidelines for running a suppression program and up to 50% of the cost of control operations. About 180 acres were sprayed in 1989. Despite spray efforts, that summer the population continued to build, defoliating 298,000 acres of woodlot throughout central Michigan, 8,000 of those acres were in Bay County. The Advisory Committee then worked to establish the Bay County Gypsy Moth Suppression Program (now the Forest Sustainability Program) which could continue the effort to protect Bay County's trees from the spongy moth. In 1989 the voters approved a three-year .25 mils ballot initiative to fund efforts to control spongy moth populations in Bay County. This gave Bay County dedicated funding for the Program. This Millage was levied in1989 and 1990 which generated a sizable fund balance even though the spongy moth population continued to grow. By 1993, more than 700,000 acres throughout Michigan's lower peninsula were defoliated by the spongy moth. There was no recorded defoliation in Bay County that year, primarily due to the spray operations that targeted the areas with the heaviest spongy moth populations. Bay County alone sprayed more than 14,000 acres in 1993. The spongy moth population crashed dramatically in 1994 due to record low temperatures that killed off many of the overwintering eggs. In the years since then, the population has built to defoliating levels in 1997-1998, 2002 and again in 2005-2006. None of these subsequent defoliations has been as extensive as the initial outbreak of 1993.

The millage was renewed for an additional three years at the rate of .1 mils in 1991, for two years in 1994, and for four years in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008. The Forest Sustainability Program continued to operate using the fund reserves, interest earned on that savings and grant funds through 2004 when the .1 mil tax was again levied for operations in 2005. I more resent years the millage has been collected to cover program expensive in two years out of four years of authorization, 2007, 2008, and 2009. A renewal of the millage will be sought in August of 2012.

Also included in the 2004 ballot question was the request to expand the program to included other non-native pests that can damage area horticulture. The language was expanded due to the introduction and spread of the Emerald Ash Borer which has devastated ash woodlots throughout southeastern Michigan. In 2010 an ash tree inventory was done on all public lands in Bay County and treatment of EAB infected ash trees was begun in spring of 2011.

The Advisory Committee continues to support added educational programs and monitoring for new invasive pests.