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Bluesource to Head Michigan Pilot Carbon Credit Marketing
Michigan Ag Connection - 09/18/2020

Michigan's nearly 20 million acres of forest can make a substantial impact in reducing the amount of carbon dioxide that has been released to the environment.

Removing carbon dioxide from the air cuts pollution and helps mitigate the effects of climate change.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Governor Whitmer plan to capitalize on these facts through an innovative new project set to take place over more than 100,000 acres of forestland at the Pigeon River Country State Forest in the northern Lower Peninsula.

"Michigan's natural resources are vital to our families, our environment, and our economy. That's why this administration is stepping up to address climate change here in Michigan," said Whitmer. "By utilizing this carbon credit program, we can lower pollution, slow the effects of climate change, and create a better Michigan for families and small businesses across the state."

DNR Director Dan Eichinger said the program could help position Michigan to sustainably leverage the diverse forest lands we manage to take full advantage of current and future carbon trade markets.

"This idea makes sense for the environment, for healthy, thriving outdoor spaces and for the people of Michigan," Eichinger said.

Just a single tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide in a year. That means that by the time a tree is 40 years old, it can store 1 ton of carbon.

If these trees are then used to make wood products, the carbon they absorbed from the atmosphere is captured or "stored" within the manufactured furniture, houses or countless other items.

Companies that produce carbon emissions during their regular operations can offset this negative impact to the environment by purchasing carbon credits from entities that reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

One carbon credit equals 1 ton of carbon dioxide emission. Studies show carbon capture (sequestration) could contribute up to 30% of the global effort to reduce carbon in the atmosphere.

Since March, the DNR has been shopping for a firm to conduct a project feasibility analysis and provide marketing and brokerage services that will enable the DNR to sell carbon offset credits for forest management practices that increase carbon absorption above baseline levels.

To head the effort, the DNR has selected Bluesource, a Salt Lake City firm that has pioneered creative solutions to climate risk since 2001.

Bluesource was selected after an evaluation of submitted proposals. The company is passionate about the environment and creates tailored sustainability strategies for private companies, nonprofit organizations and governments.

"Bluesource is thrilled to partner with the state of Michigan to develop the nation's first carbon project on state forestland. The 108,000-acre, Pigeon River Improved Forest Management Project represents a major step in the development of the U.S. voluntary carbon market, and will allow the state of Michigan to generate meaningful carbon revenue for its commitment to nature based climate solutions," said Josh Strauss, Bluesource vice president. "It's an honor to collaborate with Michigan's Department of Natural Resources as it takes this groundbreaking action and serves as a model for other state forest management programs."

DNR forest practices that increase carbon absorption could include reforesting lands, restocking forests impacted by disease or invasive species or improving forest management methods.

Forest carbon programs benefit air and water quality and help provide habitat for fish and wildlife, in addition to reducing greenhouse gases.

Under the DNR's new project in the Pigeon River Country, possibilities might involve a company voluntarily purchasing "stored carbon" credits from the DNR. The revenue from this transaction could enable to the DNR to plant more trees or take other actions to improve carbon storage.

The DNR manages 4 million acres of state forests across the state.

In addition to leveraging forest resources to improve the environment, the pilot project will move the department toward what will likely soon become a requirement of continued DNR forest certification.

Two independent organizations have established standards the DNR's forest management practices are judged against to certify forests are sustainably and responsibly managed.

Both standards require continuous improvement in forest management while protecting the environment and providing social and economic benefits.

A new standard objective on climate states that certified organizations shall have a program to identify and address opportunities for climate change mitigation associated with its forest operations.

The objective, now in draft form, states that certified organizations, like the DNR, shall identify and address opportunities to enhance carbon sequestration (capture) on the forests they own or manage, based on the best scientific information.

"The public may not be aware that it's a state law that our state forest system is certified," said Scott Whitcomb, DNR senior advisor for wildlife and public lands. "Certification assures that our forests are independently verified to be managed sustainably and opens up our markets to suppliers of forest products who want this assurance."

The DNR's pilot project will also help move Michigan toward its climate change goals.

On Feb. 4, 2019, Whitmer signed an executive directive entering Michigan into the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of governors from 20 other states who have committed to reducing greenhouse gas emission consistent with the goals of the Paris Climate Accord. There are currently 25 states enrolled.


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