Research Forest

The core lands of Ford Forest are a 3,700-acre mosaic divided about equally into the Baraga Plains tract and Ford property in and around Alberta Village. Sandy outwash plains dominated by jack pine. Silty Sturgeon River soil that favors upland northern hardwoods. Hemlock. Black spruce. Wetlands.

We learn the understory. Inventory. Model and map. Come to know this land we roam—looking under rocks, measuring trunk girth, ascending to the forest canopy to investigate, understand, and interact, in concert and in challenge, with nature.

The forest management and sustainability principles that donor Henry Ford began here continue, and expand—from selective cutting, to determining hybridization and gene flow in distinct tree populations.

We learn, describe, apply, and share knowledge. Fieldwork, management, and research is a continuous, fluid cycle.

Academic Field Courses

When the sap is running, Maple Syrup Management and Culture class is on, a comprehensive non-traditional course that covers culture and business practices as well as taps and boils. Students also come here to learn tree species, geospatial mapping, how to evaluate wildlife habitat, and safely operate a chainsaw. One-eighth of our undergraduate programs are completed here, including a six-week integrated field practicum bringing classes to study and live—and complete their traditional 80-acre—in fall or summer. Projects, field trips, and research lure both graduates and undergrads back for more forest time.

"A complete syrup and sugar maker comprises in himself a woodcutter, a forester, a botanist, an ecologist, a meteorologist, an agronomist, a chemist, a cook, an economist, and a merchant. Sugaring is an art, an education, and a maintenance."Helen and Scott Nearing, The Maple Sugar Book, 1950

Management Units

Ford Forest is divided into management units that reflect common natural disturbance history, contemporary forest cover, special conditions, past management history, and current management objectives.

Management units (we call them MUs) are convenient administrative designations that don’t necessarily imply a timber harvest plan. In many cases MUs are made because the management goal is conservation, research, or forest reserve.

Research and Project Proposals

Join the important work happening here. Ford Center and Forest welcomes and supports research and education project proposals from inside and outside the University. Your research prospectus will be reviewed for approval by the School of Forestry and Environmental Science's Ford Center and Forest oversight committee to make sure all ideas receive appropriate consideration, and to ensure compliance with Michigan Tech's policies and procedures.