Big Wild Michigan DNR Forest Carbon Project

In 2021, we broke new ground with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Together, we are protecting 100,000 acres of wilderness known as “The Big Wild” in the celebrated Pigeon River Country State Forest. This project was the first in the United States to bring state forest lands into carbon management through sustainable forest management activities.

Leveraging the carbon storage capacity of these trees not only benefits wildlife and those who use this land for recreation, but provides new revenue for the state. This project marks the beginning of a significant opportunity for climate action that can be taken across the nation.

DTE Energy, a Detroit-based diversified energy company, has purchased the first ten years of offsets from the DNR project. The credits will be sold to larger industrial DTE clients who are seeking to offset the impact of their carbon emissions. They’ll also be available to residential and small business customers through DTE’s Natural Gas Balance program, which offers a voluntary option for customers to reduce their carbon footprint.  

Bluesource will annually assess the area’s carbon storage capacity and sell the resulting carbon credits throughout the project. Josh Strauss, executive VP of nature based solutions for Bluesource, says the project is unique in multiple ways. For one, most project credits are usually sold to as many as 20 separate clients. “It is really exciting to have a single ‘anchor tenant’ in the carbon world that’s supporting this project in its entirety for the first 10 years,” Strauss says. 

“We’re protecting trees that wouldn’t otherwise be protected,” says DTE spokesperson Rosana Laurain. “We’re ensuring that they’re here for many years to come for Michiganders to enjoy and to continue to do the great work that these mature trees do in regards to cleaning our environment.” 


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In the news

Carbon Offset Deal Helps Michigan Cash In on Its Trees—by Not Cutting Them Down

August 18, 2021, Ryan Dezember, Wall Street Journal

VANDERBILT, Mich.—The Pigeon River Country State Forest generates cash from timber sales, oil-and-gas leases, hunting licenses and camping fees. Now the foresters who look after its towering red pine, bleach-barked aspen and elk will manage the roughly 110,000 acres for a new moneymaker: carbon offsets.

Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources has agreed to limit logging in the Lower Peninsula forest known as the “Big Wild” over the next four decades to create carbon offsets, a climate-change currency that companies use to compensate for emissions.

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Carbon Offset Deal Helps Michigan Cash In on Its Trees, by Not Cutting Them Down

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