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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


Gary Roloff
Wildlife Biologist

Michigan State University
East Lansing

Prior to becoming an assistant professor at Michigan State University, I worked as a corporate wildlife biologist for a timber and paper company. As a corporate biologist, my responsibilities were different from our regional biologists. Whereas our regional biologists would be out in the woods surveying for protected species or reviewing timber harvest units for wildlife issues, I was more involved with developing and implementing wildlife programs for the entire company. During my 11 years with the company our ownership in the United States varied from 2.3 - 3.5 million acres from Maine to Oregon. As a result, I frequently traveled throughout the country.

My job responsibilities as a corporate biologist could be grouped into 3 general categories:

1. Support timber management operations.
2. Support company headquarters on environmental issues.
3. Research.

Support for the timber management operations was one of my favorite activities because it allowed me to directly interact with the foresters and loggers. I would often provide advice on how to protect wildlife habitat during logging operations and as a result, I could frequently see the results of my job during and after management activities. The advice ranged from providing individual snags or downed wood to the spatial layout of harvest units so that the equipment would avoid wetlands or unique wildlife habitats. From my experience, one thing that was extremely important for getting field projects implemented was establishing and maintaining good relationships throughout the organization, from the seasonal forestry technicians to the timberlands manager.

Residual stand structure after a timber harvest in Minnesota

Another part of my job was to provide wildlife support for company headquarters. This part of my job included a range of activities. One that I spent a lot of time on was integrating wildlife into our forest planning process. A big part of forest management is planning when and what to do and wildlife is an important consideration in that process (especially if the land you are managing has protected species on it). I also spent a lot of time on Forest Stewardship Certification. This process involves inviting auditors to assess how well your management program fulfills a detailed set of requirements for proof that you are managing the resource sustainably. I was responsible for the wildlife and biodiversity components of our certification program.

The company was also supportive of wildlife and biodiversity research. During my employment, I worked or collaborated on several research projects that included northern goshawks, lynx, elk, ecosystem management tools, and plant inventories. I appreciated the fact that the company was interested in research results for use in making better land management decisions.




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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 12 February, 2014