MSU Upper Peninsula Tree Improvement Center renamed

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In February 2010, the Upper Peninsula Tree Improvement Center was renamed the MSU Forest Biomass Innovation Center (FBIC) to emphasize the evolving focus of MSU AgBioResearch research activities there.

The old name reflected a traditional scope of activities—fiber farming research, silviculture, forest genetics and forested wetland research—that were appropriate when UPTIC was established in 1986, according to Steve Pueppke, MSU AgBioResearch director, who also is director of the MSU Office of Biobased Technologies. Researchers at the station still conduct these traditional activities, but with MSU‘s strategic focus on the bioeconomy, refining the programs in Escanaba and renaming the facility made sense, both geographically and economically.

In Michigan, research and development related to the bioeconomy focus on making renewable fuels from cellulose—trees, stems and stalks that aren’t food products. As the state attempts to shift its economy from relying on nonrenewable resources such as petroleum and coal to increased reliance on renewable resources such as plant material, Michigan’s forest resources make it a leader in the bioeconomy.

Michigan’s forest resources are vast but underutilized—only one-third of the annual growth is used, according to AgBioResearch U.P. forest properties manager and forest biomass development coordinator Ray Miller, who also servers as FBIC director. Undermanaged forests are less healthy and productive than they might otherwise be. Michigan also has hundreds of thousands of acres of retired marginal agricultural fields that can produce a significant amount of biomass. These forests and fields are concentrated in the northern Lower Peninsula and in the Upper Peninsula, so centering MSU forest biomass research at the FBIC in Escanaba puts it in the heart of the region where forest biomass owners and consumers are.

Michigan State University is committed to helping Michigan become a world leader in the bioeconomy. Scientists at the FBIC are leading a number of intiatives aimed at expanding the bioeconomy with woody biomass. Much of the latest research results are available in the Research Reports section of this site.

Michigan State University has been conducting forestry research in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula since 1925. Today the University operates three research forests in the Upper Peninsula with headquarters at the FBIC.

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