Lucas focusing on forestry assistance program

REED CITY — Rick Lucas is keeping very busy nowadays as a certified forester for the Osceola-Lake and Mecosta Conservation Districts.

Lucas, whose office is in Reed City, attended the recent Turkey Huntcers Rendezvous in Baldwin, and was talking plenty about the outdoors.

“I administer the forestry assistance program,” Lucas said. “That’s a Michigan Department of Agriculture and rural development and DNR joint-funded program. What I specifically do is focus on the private lands of my service area, plus schools and township properties. That’s what I’m responsible for. Essentially, it’s to help any private landowner to better understand all the possibilities that come within the  management of their resources.

“We promote any farm bill programs that might apply to their property such as replanting. High priority right now is the development of a management plan for their property. Those are a few things that we do. As a conservation district forester, I have some responsibilities to the new qualified forest program. I help administer the tax break that applies to the private lands that are eligible.”

During his appearance in Baldwin, Lucas said he was emphasizing forestry health.

“I was alerting them to beech bark disease,” he said. “We were also have some other pests not known to be established in Michigan.”

Lucas has been participating at the rendezvous for 20 years.

“I’m a big-time deer hunter more than anything,” he said. “I’m an (Upper Peninsula) hunter and have been one for 35 years now. It’s been pretty dramatic the last several years. I lucked out last year, because I know there’s not many deer up there, but I took a nice 8-point on the second day. I spend usually the whole two weeks up there. It was a good year for me. I saw nine deer. I’ve been averaging around five or six deer a year. That’s how dire it is in the western UP where I hunt.”

In this area, “I spend a lot of time on the road in the three county area. I think things look pretty good. We had a mild winter. Some parts, at least in Lake County, had a bumper crop of acorns. That helps the wildlife get through the winter, particularly the deer. The deer, as well as the turkey, came through the winter well.”