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Program Background - How to Adopt a Forest

The Adopt-a-Forest program began as a pilot project in Roscommon County in 1989 and became statewide in 1991.  The program's goal is prevention of illegal dumping through education, law enforcement, and improved legal recycling and disposal options.

A system is set up which encourages volunteers--the program's backbone--to clean up existing trash and to function as an "army" of educators.

A partnership exists, commonly referred to as the "Trash Team", which includes governmental agencies, non-profit organizations, corporations and individuals. This partnership is the MICHIGAN COALITION FOR CLEAN FORESTS.

How to Adopt-a-Forest

Our mutual goals are to enhance enjoyment of public forest land by eliminating illegal dumping and to increase awareness of recycling opportunities for waste materials found.


     There are three ways in which you or your group can become an adopter:

  • Be responsible for the physical cleanup and maintenance of your adopted portion of public forest land;
  • Donate equipment or commercial services in the cleaning up of public forest land;
  • Contribute monetarily to a special account to assist in paying for trash hauling and landfill space.

PHYSICAL CLEANUP AND MAINTENANCE - In many places on public forest land adopting a section of forest will simply involve picking up litter along the roads found in and around your adopted area. These relatively small amounts of trash may be disposed of directly by the adopter as they would their own household trash. In some instances, and with larger amounts of trash, disposal arrangements can be made with local transfer sites or landfills. The initial cleanup may involve removal of small litter items plus large items such as discarded stoves, mattresses, carpeting, etc. After the initial major cleanup, subsequent efforts will involve a maintenance level of activity. You should try to pick up your area at least twice a year, preferably in early spring and early fall. On-site recycling of certain materials is encouraged. Again, the USFS, DNR, or DEQ can give you information on how this might be accomplished.  Visit www.michigan.gov/deqrecycling for further information.

EQUIPMENT DONATION- Because the trash on public land is often considerable and large, certain equipment (like front-end loaders) is invaluable to groups which have adopted portions of the forest. The DNR or USFS can help you coordinate your equipment with a cleanup activity.

MONETARY CONTRIBUTIONS A special fund has been set up with the Michigan Society of American Foresters a 501(c)(3) organization] for tax-deductible contributions. Funds will be used to pay for removal and disposal of trash from public forest land. Donations can go into the account for general use or be earmarked for a specific geographic area or use.

 For any of the above type of adoptions, you or your group will be recognized with a certificate. If you adopt over 640 acres of land, you may request a sign recognizing you or your group as adopting a portion of the forest.

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