Aerial view of forest with fall colors.

Haikus for the Trees

An aerial view of the Ford Forest and Research Center shows autumnal color shifts and diversity in tree species.

Enjoy a few poems inspired by research at the Ford Center and Research Forest.

What is a research forest?

A space to observe the natural environment. A place to modify key variables. A laboratory that lives and breathes without walls around it.

At Michigan Tech, we have 5,866 acres of research forest within 50 miles of campus. That means our researchers have a spacious, all-natural lab close at hand to study invasive species, climate change, silviculture, and wildlife behavior.

"Given our changing world, we work to address the challenges in natural resource sustainability through education and training, research, innovation, and outreach."Andrew Storer, Dean, CFRES

One particular site, the Ford Center and Research Forest in Alberta, Michigan, is a hub for faculty research, student research, and at 3,700 acres, is Michigan Tech’s biggest classroom. It’s part of the reason the University’s forestry program ranks in the top five in the nation; it’s where students from the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Sciences (CFRES) come each year for the annual Fall Camp; it’s where they conduct senior design projects alongside faculty and industry partners. Overall, more than $2 million of federal and state funding has supported dozens of active research projects at the Ford Center.

A research forest—both organically beautiful and carefully measured— can be hard to capture in words. But there is a reason that nature has inspired haiku poems for hundreds of years. So, here are a few research-inspired haikus about some of the CFRES projects happening at the forest.

Bird Banding

nets like gossamer
snare the subjects for banding
released, again, wings

Lead Researchers

Jared Wolfe and Kristin Brzeski

What

Bird banding station; small, metal bands help ecologists track bird populations

Funding

USDA McIntire-Stennis, MTU start-up, MTU Ecosystem Science Center

Bird with wing extended held in researcher's hands.

Small Mammal Traps

Researcher holding a mouse.

milk cartons hold mice
like unbooked Air BnBs
weights and vitals, please.

Lead Researchers

Kristin Brzeski and Jared Wolfe

What

The smallest creatures reveal big impacts on forest ecosystems

Funding

USDA McIntire-Stennis, MTU start-up, MTU Ecosystem Science Center

Forest Road Surfaces

run off challenges
pumped and powered sprinklers mist
geogrid forest

Lead Researcher

Matt Kelly

What

Controlling the rain is no easy feat, but necessary to study runoff

Funding

USDA-NRCS CIG, MTU start-up

Two researchers next to a forest road with machines spraying water.

Harvesting Forests

Researcher outside holding a map.

take only the top
can logging be like growing
broccoli at home?

Lead Researchers

Yvette Dickinson, Robert Froese, and Chris Webster

What

Whole-tree logging and modern silviculture to protect trees

Funding

NCASI, Weyerhaeuser Company, NHSEED, USDA McIntire-Stennis, USDA-NIFA, USFS, MTU start-up, MTU Ecosystem Science Center

Climate Oaks

brought from as far South
as deep West Virginia
acorns tell stories

Lead Researcher

Carsten Külheim

What

Oaks from around the country could aid Upper Peninsula forest resiliency

Funding

Superior Ideas, USDA-NIFA, MTU start-up, MTU Ecosystem Science Center

Oak sapling in a pot.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.