ROGERS CITY - It's been a busy first few months for Presque Isle and Cheboygan County Forester Bethany Lyons.
Lyons told Presque Isle County commissioners she's made more than 50 site visits, 30-plus referrals and participated in several events, including Rogers City Fall Fest just a few days after moving to town. Along with a brief rundown of her activities, she told commissioners about the services she performs in both counties.
As a forester, Lyons provides information, education, technical assistance and free site visits for private landowners. She and other district foresters aim to help Michigan residents understand their forest resources, as well as protect, manage and utilize them.
A forester is not a logger, Lyons said, and her task is to serve as a neutral source of information. She's also the contact point for a number of programs, including the state's qualified forest program and federal programs, including the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program.
Lyons' visits are obligation-free, and she works to help landowners identify their management goals and answer questions about forest health.
"I come onto a landowner's property at their invitation," she said. "Whether they want to walk around with me in the woods, or sometimes I've had a lot of absentee land owners ... they'll call me up and say, 'Can you go check out this issue on my forest land,' or, 'Tell me how much volume of this I have, whatever timber type I have on my forest land.'"
Lyons has fielded a lot about emerald ash borers, an invasive insect that have destroyed ash trees across the state, including in Rogers City. Department of Public Works Director Roger Wenzel consulted with her on infected ash trees in the city's right-of-way.
"Unfortunately we're losing a lot of ash trees, but it's important to stay informed," she said.
Oak wilt is another concerning tree disease, Lyons said. It has affected trees in Alpena County, and a suspected outbreak was found in Cheboygan County. It hasn't hit Presque Isle County yet.
The disease is caused by a fungus spread by beetles, Lyons said. It kills trees quickly, and spreads easily among oak stands because oak trees naturally graft roots with surrounding oaks to share nutrients.
Lyons can be contacted by calling 734-4000 or by email at email@example.com, she said.
Ralph Stedman, Presque Isle Conservation District administrator, told commissioners about other programs the organization has taken on. Those include scrap tire collections, trail work at the Herman Vogler Conservation Area and working on a management plan for the park. Lyons said the conservation district has also started a friends group for the park and is seeking sponsors for new trail map signs. At $30 a sign, they've already secured more than $250 for them.