Bear Lake Board of Education looks at school forest harvest

Bear Lake Schools Board of Education  are looking at making another harvest on the school forest.

Bear Lake Schools Board of Education are looking at making another harvest on the school forest.

BEAR LAKE — The Bear Lake Schools Forest is unique from other school forests in that community members often use it for recreational purposes like hiking and biking.

Superintendent Marlen Cordes presented to the board correspondence from MichiTree Inc. forester Scott Erickson. MichiTree manages the school forest for the district and Erickson said they keep in mind certain things when looking at the management of that property.

“My understanding of the objectives for the properties is to retain long-term ownership of the property and to manage it for long term health and production,” wrote Erickson. “It also is to be good stewards of the land.”

Erickson said he has toured all the parcels of the forest and reviewed the 2007 forest management plan.

“Based on that I can make some short term recommendations,” he reported.

Those recommendations include:

n In 2015-16 conduct a red pine thinning and over-story harvest as suggested by the forest management plan.

n Cruise the timber for harvest this winter/next spring and advertise the sale for competitive bidding when market conditions are favorable.

Cordes said there are concerns after previous harvests that were done by certain companies that didn’t leave the area in very good conditions.

“We want to make sure that whoever we hire is someone who is going to take care of the forest and make it look good so the community can still ride their bikes and walk through there,” he said. “It’s just so the tops get moved  and cleaned up because last time it was a mess. We want to make sure that the individual that goes in there does a good job to clean it up.”

Board members also decided at Wednesday’s meeting to use the Michigan Association of School Board’s evaluation for Cordes’ annual evaluation. Some of the information doesn’t apply, so the board will only answer the information that does pertain to his evaluation.

“It still hasn’t been determined what will be used as a growth piece for the evaluation and we are looking at different things that we can use for it,” said Cordes.

Board members also discussed graduation dates. At the October board meeting Bear Lake High School seniors spoke to the board about changing the graduation date so it didn’t conflict with spring sports regional competition.

“In order to avoid  conflicts the board agreed to move graduation to Sunday, May 17 at 2 p.m.” said Cordes. “There are no conflicts with any other dates and it should work good.”

Board members were also given a regular update on the daycare program at Bear Lake by Cordes.

“Our daycare is still profitable and we have done a few minor tweaks to make that more profitable and at this point we are still $4,500 in the black and doing well. We are trying to do what is best for the daycare itself and the families that are using it to make it the least expensive and most profitable that we can do.”

Bear Lake Schools free and reduced lunch numbers at Bear Lake decreased for the first time in five years. Board members hope it is a good sign that the economy is picking up in the area.

“Our hope is that our parents and community is doing better and that things are improving for them,” said Cordes.

In other action from the meeting the board took action to hire Joe Ledford as a full-time custodian and Alyssa Waller as a middle school basketball coach.



Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at

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