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A Day In the Life of A Forester
A Sampling of Real Michigan Foresters and the Wide Diversity of Career Paths


Larry Pedersen
Inventory Specialist
Michigan DNR

On any given day, an Inventory Specialist is likely to be involved in several activities. He or she will likely be devoting some time to considering next steps for this year's inventory data. Maybe new training will deserve some thought and planning. There will be requests to attend to for inventory information from co-workers and the public.

Alternatively, there could be a meeting with other natural resource professionals on a particular forest site to assess how it should be managed or whether the inventory data are adequate. Or, perhaps there is an opportunity to catch up on some writing and editing of documents relating to forest plans, protecting biodiversity, and other aspects of forest management which the Specialist engages in as part of a team of natural resource professionals.

Inventory Specialists are the primary people responsible for managing data and information about trees. Their data define how trees are grouped into stands and the stands are grouped into forest types. Their information indicates the age, location, diversity, and many other features of trees, stands, and forest types.

Inventory Specialists are involved in a variety of work, from maintenance and manipulation of the core vegetative data for day-to-day activities like harvesting trees, through modeling and developing projections for assessments, plans and strategic initiatives, such as deciding where to designate old growth. They often train personnel in how to use the inventory information system and are responsible for the accuracy and completeness of the inventory data.

For the Michigan DNR, Inventory Specialists also play a major coordination role in the annual timber management work plans and overall forest treatment decision making process (what the DNR refers to as its Compartment Review System.) In this role, the Inventory Specialists help to bring consistency, continuity, and long-run forest trend considerations into the management of Michigan's State Forest. They also assure relevant information is available to the public and assure forest management decisions are properly recorded.

Inventory Specialists are frequently called upon to analyze inventory data for special projects. These may be to relate traditional forest type data to other classifications such as wildlife habitats or ecological classifications, contrast inventory data against timber sale data, review the nature or scope of special conservation areas or forest health concerns, and many other projects. For the Michigan DNR, Inventory Specialists have also been very involved in developing broad forest plans that include sections on recreation concerns, rare plants and animals, wildlife, wood products, and other natural resource issues.

Increasingly, inventory data are incorporated into geographic information systems (GIS). This means our data can be accurately mapped, shared, and contrasted against other data which is similarly mapped on a computer. In many cases, it makes considering more types of data possible and the results are often easier to understand because they can be communicated with maps.

This has increased the capabilities of Inventory Specialists to assess what we are doing and should be doing with our forest lands. And it makes their already diverse jobs all the more important, interesting, and challenging.



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This website is maintained by Bill Cook, Michigan State University Extension Forester in the Upper Peninsula.  Comments, questions, and suggestions are gratefully accepted. 
Last update of this page was 5 June, 2006