Sections of Hartwick Pines trail through old-growth forest to close as dozens of trees are removed

GRAYLING, MI – Several sections of a popular trail at Hartwick Pines State Park will be closed this week as crews remove several trees from the area.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said a couple dozen American beech trees that were killed by beech bark disease are coming down as part of the project, which should be completed before the Labor Day holiday weekend.

Several sections of the park’s Old Growth Trail will be closed. The 1.25-mile accessible trail is a popular spot at the park near Grayling in Crawford County.

The infected trees are near the paved trail. There are also a few dead and decaying white pines close to the path that will be removed.

“The tree-removal crew will be working on different sections along the Old Growth Trail,” said Craig Kasmer, interpreter at Hartwick Pines State Park.

“Signs have been posted and visitors are welcome to come to the visitor center. Our staff will be glad to explain what section the crew is working on a given day. Of course, safety is the highest priority, and we ask that visitors simply be aware that some parts of the trail will be inaccessible.”

The tree-cutting crew is removing the top sections of the trees, keeping the remaining tree “snags” at a height of about 12 to 15 feet. The cut portions will remain on the forest floor in their natural habitat, said Heidi Frei, forest health specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

“We’re doing our best to emulate and respect natural conditions and to make sure this process is as low-impact as possible,” Frei said.

“Old-growth forests are dynamic. Changes brought from invasive pests – such as the changes wrought by beech bark disease – are an increasing threat to Michigan forests and are now part of our management in the old-growth forest at Hartwick Pines State Park.”

The park is named for its 49 acres of old-growth pine forest, some of the last remaining in the state. The park’s rolling hills overlook the valley of the east branch of the AuSable River, four small lakes and unique timber lands.

The park is also home to a seasonal modern campground, year-round rustic cabin, group-use area, a picnic area and 21 miles of year-round trails.


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