Petition update · Sierra Club MI- TOO MANY DEER and ASPEN TREES ·

by David Rassel · 30,615 supporters
Petition update
David Rassel
Crystal Falls, MI

Oct 27, 2016 — This update starts with my exchange of emails which starts with Marvin Roberson coming to the defense of my email sent to David Allen-Sierra Club. Please take the time to read the entire correspondence. As you read the emails you may be as surprised as I was to hear that Marvin Roberson thinks that there are too many Aspen and Deer, unbelievable. At the end you will see a paper from the Sierra Club which the text portion is attached at the end ( of this upadate.

I would greatly appreciate everyone who has an opinion about this to please email me a short response even if it one line so I can print them out and hand deliver them to the Senators office. Emails carry a lot more weight then just a signature on a petition although I appreciate all. Thank you everyone for your support. email:

Nothing included below has been edited.

From: Marvin Roberson – Sierra Club
Oct 11

David, John, shelly.campbell, Alison, Christine

To: David Rassel,

Allow me to weigh in – I am Marvin Roberson, Professional Staff Forest Ecologist for the Michigan Sierra Club. You seem concerned about credentials, so I’ll share that I did undergrad and grad studies in Forest Ecology at UM SNRE (BS and MS in Forest Ecology).

First – the Sierra Club gets asked to sign on to lots of things. We usually don’t. In fact, we usually don’t have time to “research” everything we’re asked to sign on to. We have internally set our own priorities, and that’s what we spend our time on. In this case, the Sierra Club simply decided not to sign your petition. We did not “form an opinion” opposing your petition. We readily admitted that we were not familiar with the background, and we do not sign things with which we’re not familiar. We also clearly disagreed about some issues.

Second – you make a meaningless distinction between “Forestry” and “Silviculture”. Silviculture is a subcategory of Forestry. Claiming this is a distinction based on “not fully understanding” the terms is incorrect and insulting.

Third – clearcutting certainly has a place in forest management. Regenerating aspen in the amounts we do in this state requires clearcutting. Now, I think we have/regenerate too much aspen, but that’s a concern over how much aspen we have, not the silvicultural practice we use to regenerate it.

Deer depend on clearcutting of aspen. Aspen is the first species to bud out in the spring, which allows starving deer to survive. As mentioned above, I think we have too much aspen, and deer as well. But that’s not because the regenerative method (clearcutting) is wrong, it’s because of the magnitude of the outcome, not the method.

Another species, Jack Pine, regenerates in even aged stands naturally. However, this happens only after catastrophic wildfires. For good or bad, we simply do not allow those kinds of fires in the Grayling area, Yellow Dog Plains, or other sandy, outwash, populated areas where Jack Pine is prevalent. Consequently, to regenerate even-aged stands of Jack Pine, clearcutting is the optimal method.

If you would like to discuss this in a less confrontational manner, I’d be happy to talk on the phone. (906) 360-xxxx.

I’ve removed some of the email addresses, I don’t have the kind of discussion you’ve decided to make this in public.

From: Marvin Roberson- Sierra Club
Oct 11

to me, David, John, Shelly, Alison, Christine

I would also note that your personal attack on Dave Allen was unproductive, offensive, and simply flat-out wrong. Over the past 25 years, Dave has spent thousands of hours in efforts to improve Michigan’s forest practices, and he’s very familiar with them. He attended countless DNR Compartment Reviews, USFS meetings, and was there in the very inception of Michigan Forest Certification. More than almost any volunteer in any Michigan organization, Dave Allen has worked tirelessly to improve forestry in Michigan.

Everyone who has in fact been involved in these issues knows that, and knows Dave.

From: David Rassel
Oct 11

to Marv¬- Sierra Club

Marv, first of all your response as David’s is uninformed, not being confrontational just pointing out facts. If you read the petition which includes the cut specs you would be more informed. This is not about aspens it is about the hardwoods and as to your opinion that we have too “many deer” i guess you would need to qualify that by region again an uniformed opinion not being confrontational. Im not a passer by i live in those woods along with several others in the area. The deer population in the area is a fraction of what it was 5 years ago because of all the deforestation. As to the prevention of forest fires, clear cutting increases the chances of a fire because of all the slashings left behind and that is not my opinion but the opinion of the DNR fire team which is also discussed in the petition. Perhaps you should read the petition to understand what is being petitioned before i call you. We are only asking to leave the hardwoods no one has asked for no cutting just not Clear Cutting. As far as any goes as to personal attacks that was not the point, however i do not appreciate someone or anyone pontificating to me without even taking the time to read the cut specs or understanding what was being asked for. Lastly i have personally spoken with others in the same organizations that mr allen spoke for and heard a much different opinion, at this time im not mentioning their names.

From: Marvin Roberson- Sierra Club
Oct 11

To David Rassel,

I was responding to what you said, which was (and is below) a blanket statement that clearcutting is not a valid management technique.

I disagreed, and gave some examples, which included aspen, which is explicitly mentioned in your petition.

Dave Allen did not “pontificate” he expressed the opinion that clearcutting is a valid management technique.

You then questioned his credentials, which did not seem to be of concern to you when you asked him to sign the petition. Nor, I suspect, would they have been of concern if he had signed.

We can talk about this if you’d like. If not, that’s up to you

We can also talk about deer if you like.

I’m happy to discuss this, but have no interest in arguing about it.

Call me if you want.

From: David Rassel
Oct 11

to Marvin- Sierra Club

Marv I may have responded to quickly as I was in my car and misunderstood what you said. You are of the opinion that there is to much Aspen? Just to let you know in the forest marked for clear cutting there is very little grown aspen, almost not oak some cherry, maple and birch. We are asking for support to save these hardwoods. After re-reading your email I see you are of the opinion we have to many aspen trees and to many deer but on the other hand you are of the opinion that the aspen need to be clear cut to regenerate more aspen to feed the starving deer. So which is it we have to many deer or to much aspen? and if you clear cut to feed starving deer by regenerating more aspen won’t that create more deer? you have me confused as to your stance, can’t have it both ways. Also you mentioned the Grayling area what Grayling area are you referring hopefully not Grayling Michigan because that is about 350 miles south east from the site I am referring to, please explain. As you requested I have kept this a private conversation but I am not convinced that you have seen the petition or read it if you are referring to Grayling Michigan, personally I know of no other Grayling area but that does not mean it doesn’t exist.

From: Marvin Roberson- Sierra Club
Oct 11

to David Rassel,

As I said, I’m happy to talk if you want.

I think there are too many deer and too much aspen. However, not everyone agrees. Clearcutting aspen is the preferred regeneration method, and does keep deer from starving. It is a legitimate technique for that purpose, even though I think we have too much (deer and aspen) already.

I referenced Grayling because I was using jack pine as an example of legitimate use of clearcutting for regeneration, and allowing big fires in jack pine is no longer an option due to residential use of jack pine areas, like Grayling. And the Sands Plains in Marquette County. And various areas in the West UP. It was an example.

Your petition, which I read, describes clearcutting in MI as a bad idea. I’m pointing out that it is a legitimate technique.

Your petition talks not just about a single sale, it talks about stopping clearcutting in MI, and explicitly references Aspen as an example of what should NOT be clearcut.

I am able to both understand legitimate regeneration techniques, and simultaneously believe that the desired outcomes (more deer and aspen, for example) are things which we already have too much of. This does not mean the technique is bad. I’m not having it both ways.

If you want to talk, call. I don’t find email exchanges like this very productive.

From: David Rassel
Oct 12

to Marvin- Sierra Club

Marvin Roberson:
After re-reading your last email I understand that through you as the “Professional Staff Forest Ecologist for the Michigan Sierra Club”, the Sierra Club stance is that there are too many deer and to many Aspen trees in the Upper Michigan. You stated, Clear Cutting regenerates Aspen ( which would cause MORE Apsen to grow) to feed the starving deer which you say there are too many deer. There are few deer left in the area of the scheduled clear cut when compared to just a few years ago we had many because of all the clear cutting. So your idea that clear cutting the deer’s shelter in exchange for food increases the deer population does not make sense me, nor have I seen any starving deer in the area. If there were any starving deer the wolves and coyotes eat them, now those we have quite a few of in the area. But with the clear cutting i am sure the wolves and black bear will be gone soon too. Does the Sierra Club like wolves and bears, maybe you could throw your hat in the ring for them?

The example you have chosen regarding Grayling Michigan and Sands Plains is nothing like the unpopulated area in which the forest to be clear cut is located. Grayling and Sands Plains/Gwinn are populated areas/towns and home to the Sawyer Air Force Base and need I mention Potlatch Corporation the large Saw/Lumber Mill. The area to be clear cut which I am talking about is a forest that a handful of folks have small cabins to live in, such as myself. We keep the winter roads open ourselves and when the snow is to deep we snowshoe in. You are referencing residential areas which do not compare and are poor examples, do you have any clue as to where the section of land is that i am petitioning save the hardwood trees even exists or is it just a place on a map. Have you ever spent time in the forest and I don’t mean camping, you may have i don’t want to pass judgement, maybe you have more time in the forest than me or maybe you just didn’t like it. All I say is before you give advice, opinions or make decisions you should take the time to really know what you are deciding as many of us Sierra Club and thought you were in OUR corner.

From the email you sent me it appears that you would be happier it everything was CLEAR CUT and the DEER were gone, nothing but fields of grass and no Aspen forests.
You also said that I am anti CLEAR CUTTING, You are correct in that, I do not agree with CLEAR CUTTING, I dont think its good for anyone not even loggers or saw mills. From the logging aspect as it seems that’s where your allegiance is, if they never allow forests to become mature forests we will never have quality lumber to cut fine wood for veneers etc.. cutting young hardwoods destroys the forest and future cuts of mature trees (lrg stumpage=>value) for the loggers. Rape, pillage and blunder only worked for a short time in history just ask the next Viking you run into how that whole idea worked out. We all understand that trees are going to be cut and no one is asking for trees not to be cut but let’s do it in a intelligently for Gods sake its 2016 not 1916. Intelligently cutting; whereas; the mills still get their wood, the loggers still cut their trees and the animals get to keep their forest and the rest of us get to enjoy nature.

I also disagree that email exchanges are not productive I think if this was a phone conversation a lot of things would be talked over and forgotten, and yes I think it might be a confrontational conversation or not who knows, but I just can’t get a grasp on what you are saying: (I am able to both understand legitimate regeneration techniques, and simultaneously believe that the desired outcomes (more deer and aspen, for example) are things which we already have too much of. This does not mean the technique is bad. I’m not having it both ways). This confounds and I can’t make heads or tails of your position maybe some else will be able to explain it to me.

You have also mentioned more than once that I strongly reference saving Aspens in my petition, I don’t see the problem with that as I do think aspens are very beautiful trees, but to set the record straight what I actually said in the petition was; “I see no reason why the DNR is CLEAR CUTTING: ASPEN, BIRCH, CHERRY AND MAPLE.” Again, I am trying to save the hardwoods. The DNR has said that the fir, balsam, tamarack, black spruce were all damaged by the Spruce Bud Worm I have not witnessed this devastation however, I did not start a petition to stop the entire cut or to save the trees that the DNR has said were damaged. The SBW doe not attack the hardwood therefore Clear Cutting is counter productive for all of us including the animals in the forest. Taking out the infected fir and balsam and leaving the hardwoods would actually decrease the amount of trees the SBW would have to thrive on. So again I ask whats is wrong with saving aspen, cherry, birch and maple.

Maybe I can get you to see things my way.

Marvin Roberson- Sierra Club
Oct 12

to David Rassel,

As I said – call me if you like, or not. Your choice.

So I called Marv Roberson and the conversation ended the way I thought it would, we agreed to disagree. His opinion is pro CLEAR CUT, he still thinks there is too many ASPEN and too many deer in Michigan and he accused me of using a blanket statement regarding Aspens. Throwing out a statement as too many deer and aspen in Michigan is a ridiculous blanket statement. He also compared populated areas such as Grayling to desolate areas such as the subject area, from what he says I don’t think he has any idea of what he is talking about. He also said Sierra Club could not sign my petition because it says “Stop ALL Clear Cutting” (which it does not) although I think it should be stopped and he said the petition was aimed at stopping the cutting of Aspen (which it is not). Evidentially I was correct in my email exchange with Marv Roberson and David Allen when I said they had “Uninformed Responses” or neither of them read or scarier yet were unable to absorb the information in it. I believe they are just on the side of CLEAR CUTIING as he told me over and over that he was not against any form of CLEAR CUTTING even after I explained where this isolated area was located. Now I have an OPINION of the MICHIGAN CHAPTER of the SIERRA CLUB -Worthless. I can only hope that other Chapters’ have more environmentally intelligent leaders.
According to the paper put out by the Sierra Club’s Michigan Chapter there is a conflict of opinions. I mentioned this paper to Marv Roberson and he said he had no idea what I was taking about so I explained that his named was mentioned in the paper and still he did not know what paper I was referring to.

Michigan Chapter

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State Forests

Sierra Club members and staff are working together to help the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) seek out, identify, and designate the most special places in Michigan.
In 2004, the DNRE began a process for meeting certification requirements under the Sustainable Forestry Act, signed by Governor Granholm in 2004. Part of the certification process included identifying, and then beefing up, the state’s activities to protect “high conservation value forests”, and to adopt and implement a biodiversity planning initiative. See more here.
The DNRE set up a public nomination process which allows the public to identify and nominate special places in the state to be managed foremost for maintaining biodiversity. In 2009, the Sierra Club held workshops to train citizens to identify and nominate the areas of our forests most appropriate for preservation and even restoration. Our volunteers have scouted out appropriate areas, and then submitted nominating forms to the MDNRE for consideration.
Sierra Club Forest Ecologist Marvin Roberson participated on the Core Design Teams for the Western and Eastern Upper Peninsula, and for the Northern Lower Peninsula, working with Chapter Coordinator Amanda Hightree to train our volunteers.
(click photo for enlargement)
Three centuries ago, much of Michigan’s landscape was covered by many hundreds of square miles of forest. In our country’s early history, settlers saw financial opportunity in those forests – and they began cutting them down. By the late 1800s, devastating CLEARCUTS had leveled nearly every forest. The leftover slash burned in raging wildfires that scarred the land, even sterilizing the soil in some places.

Recovery from this overwhelming mismanagement was slow in coming. In the late 1980s, the Michigan Chapter began working to help Michigan’s forests recover by focusing attention on the state’s forest management policies. Many varied interests kept the state’s department of natural resources from treating the forests as anything other than habitat for game species such as White-tailed deer. Hundreds of hours were spent in research, attending meetings, talking and gathering input, and convincing our state’s forest managers that we must protect not only game species, but all native wildlife, and their habitats.
Today, Michigan has approximately 4 million acres of State Forests, with lakes, rivers, vernal pools, and other gems. Our forests host important unique ecosystems with hundreds of species of plants and animals that exist nowhere else in the state. Our cleanest rivers originate in our forests. In the early 1900s, timber barons razed our forests, who thought they were endless. Since then they’ve slowly been recovering from this devastating logging and mismanagement. They’re on the verge of recovering their former beauty, and more importantly, their biological diversity. But now our forests face pressures from climate change, bad decisions on oil and gas development, mining proposals and road building, and even destruction for “biomass” for energy. Our society must choose carefully whether to let our forests recover, or tragically to allow industrial pressure to set the biological diversity clock back another century.

Michigan’s forests face threats from many quarters:
• Climate Change, which will bring weather regimes very different from those that today’s forests grew up with;
• The timber industry, which proposes turning our wonderful forests into nothing more than tree farms;
• Organizations that advocate managing for game species only, to the detriment of many sensitive non-game species;
• Development that fragments and destroys native ecosystems and habitat;
• Bad decisions on oil and gas infrastructure development;
• Spread of destructive exotic species such as the Emerald Ash Borer, which may worsen with warmer winters.

• Protect and restore the biodiversity and majesty of Michigan’s forests that once were here, are now returning, and could be great again
• Enhance public trust, give Michigan citizens input into management of the forests and public lands they own
• Help threatened native wildlife
• Expand awareness among Michigan citizens of the importance of our Forest ecosystems
• Increase the level of public participation in decisions regarding our Forests and public lands
• Protect the rarest, most important places and species
• Promote policies and management decisions that move Michigan’s Forests toward restoration of their native grandeur
• Promote policies and management decisions that increase our native ecosystems’ ability to survive climate changes
We use all lawful advocacy methods, including activist training, litigation, and public input. The Michigan Forest Biodiversity Program has a 10 year history of innovative work, using multifaceted, strategic approaches, looking at the big picture long-term, including:
• Integrating the work of volunteers and staff
• Training activists in methods to participate in public forest management decisions
• Securing more open public input processes for state forest management
• Prompting the National Forests in Michigan to designate over 300,000 acres of Old Growth Forest.
• Suing the US Fish and Wildlife Service for accountability in management of wildlife on 4 million acres of state lands in Michigan

Marvin Roberson, the Sierra Club’s Michigan Forest Policy Specialist since 1994, is a highly respected expert on public forest policy and natural resource management.

Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocuopus pileatus)
• Life History & Michigan History
• Non-DNR Links

Life History & Michigan History
Pileated woodpeckers are crow-size woodpeckers with a large crest of red crown feathers. Its wingspan is almost 30 inches. The long, black bill presents a distinctive silhouette. Males have a red patch of feathers from the back of the bill across the cheek to a point under the eye. Females have a black narrow band of feathers in the same area.
The pileated woodpeckers live in large mature tracts of forests in Michigan. These forests often contain a number of dead and dying trees that the pileated uses both for feeding and as nesting cavities.
Maintaining pileated woodpecker populations will require the maintenance and management of old growth forests in Michigan. Education on the bird’s role and how to avoid building damage will also help to protect the unique piece of Michigan’s heritage.


Conducting My Own Research
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