EAST LANSING, MI - In a move that will boost collaborative management of Michigan\u2019s forest lands, the U.S. Forest Service today signed a Good Neighbor Authority (GNA) master agreement with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR).\r\nThe completed master agreement between the Hiawatha, Ottawa and Huron-Manistee National Forests in Michigan and the DNR is among the first signed Good Neighbor Authority agreements in the country.\r\nThe master agreement is a broad pact allowing the state to supplement the work being done by Forest Service staff on the national forests. Supplemental project agreements will be signed by each forest in the coming weeks to more specifically identify the nature of the work to be completed in the first year of the master agreement.\r\n\u201cGood Neighbor Authority projects will expand our capacity to achieve forest management outcomes described in the forests\u2019 2006 Land and Resource Management Plans,\u201d said U.S. Forest Service Eastern Regional Forester Kathleen Atkinson. \u201cI\u2019m excited to have a new tool that allows us to work together in unprecedented ways into the future.\u201d\r\nThe 2014 Farm Bill authorized Good Neighbor Authority for the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Good Neighbor Authority allows the Forest Service to enter into agreements or contracts with states that enable the states to perform forest, rangeland and watershed restoration services on national forest system lands.\r\n\u201cThis authority is a significant way for the Forest Service to partner with state agencies to make improvements to the land, benefiting local communities and their economies with the timber receipts generated from Good Neighbor Authority,\u201d Atkinson said.\r\nBill O\u2019Neill, Michigan\u2019s state forester and chief of the DNR Forest Resources Division, agreed.\r\n\u201cBy working together, we\u2019re better poised to meet the goals and objectives outlined by Governor Snyder at the 2013 Forest Products Summit, which will help increase the industry\u2019s economic impact on state and regional economies from $14 billion to $20 billion,\u201d he said. \u201cThis partnership will allow for more timber sales, which means more work for local loggers and other forest products companies and great news for the state\u2019s economy.\r\n\u201cAdditionally, this agreement continues to foster a positive collaborative relationship with the U.S. Forest Service to address land management on a landscape basis. We very much appreciate the willingness of our federal partners to undertake this pilot program in Michigan. This program is a tribute to the leadership of the U.S. Forest Service to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of forest management.\u201d\r\nThis partnership will maintain and create healthy forest conditions as called for in the national forests\u2019 forest plans, while providing additional wood fiber to Michigan\u2019s vital forest products industry. A portion of the receipts from the timber sales will reimburse the state for its costs to do the work, with remaining funds available to conduct additional restoration activities on the forest.\r\nThe Good Neighbor Authority\u00a0provides the opportunity to work across jurisdictional boundaries and sustainably manage forest lands in a mixed-ownership setting. It leverages state resources to increase capacity to accomplish work on national forest system lands. It also helps strengthen federal and state partnerships.\r\n\u201cWe are fortunate to have the Michigan DNR and its employees ready and willing to assist us in achieving important conservation goals on national forests, in addition to the important work they already do on state-managed, county and private lands,\u201d Atkinson said. \u201cI am looking forward to working even more closely with the DNR on a variety of conservation projects.\u201d\r\nTo learn more about Michigan\u2019s state forest management and planning, visit www.michigan.gov\/forestry.