Trees & Forestry


Ottawa County is home to rich forests covering sweeping dunes, cascading hills, and beside our cities and farmland. In fact, just about 1/3 of the land in Ottawa County is covered in woods according to DNR measurements. The woods here holds great importance historically, ecologically, and in the hearts of it’s residents. Soil conservation in Michigan has it’s roots in the forests of Ottawa county, and the lumber industry thrives here even today. The dunes of the lakeshore, the sprawling bayous, and numerous county parks all depend on the trees that sustain them. The Ottawa Conservation District is committed to high standards of sustainability to ensure these forests last for generations to come.


Most forestland in Michigan in owned by individual private landowners. This is no exception in Ottawa county, where ownership data from the DNR and local tax officials show that 85% of forestland here is owned by individuals. There are many reasons to want your own slice of woods, as diverse as the people who live here. The woods are home to the critters we love to see, the game we hunt, and the trails we use to get away from the troubles of the day. For many, the forest is a connection to family, as a legacy of land stewardship. We want to make sure that what you value about the woods remains for years and years, and you can help by exploring the links below!


What can you do to care for our forests?

Help stop the spread of Invasive Species

Stay up to date on invasive species. These species have the potential to change the entire forest. Invasive species are not native to Michigan and can cause ecological, economic, or human harm. One notable example is the Emerald Ash Borer, which has devastated Ash trees across the nation. Click to learn more about the danger of invasive species.

Plan for your forest

Create a long term climate change plan for your forests. Climate change is another factor to consider, where we may need to assist the woods in adapting to higher temperatures and more extreme weather. Most folks do not have a plan in place for their woods, preferring to leave things “natural”. We need to be an active part of the story of our woods, to help sustain it into the future. Click to meet your local forester.

Plant Native Trees

Planting native trees is an important part of caring for our local forests and ecosystems. Every year the Ottawa Conservation District holds a tree seedling sale where the public can buy quality trees grown right here in Michigan. Every year we provide a full color, detailed catalog of the trees we are offering so each homeowner can choose the trees that will work best for them!


Participate in the Forestry Assistance Program

Our woods may seem strong and everlasting, but there are threats to it, that if left unchecked, could threaten their future. Forest management can involve some difficult decisions, and we here at the Ottawa Conservation District want to help you make those choices. The best thing you can do is to learn what you can do with your land, and our District Forester can help guide you. Visit the Forestry Assistance Program page for more information.