District Forester, Tabitha O'Dell, serves both Otsego and Crawford-Roscommon conservation districts. Raised in Gladwin County, Michigan, O'Dell graduated from the Michigan Technological University with a bachelor’s degree in forestry with a minor in ecology. She held various internship throughout college and worked in utility forestry before beginning her work with the Otsego and Crawford-Roscommon conservation districts.
As a conservation district forester, Tabitha is part of the Forestry Assistance Program, which is a statewide program funded by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. There are currently 20 conservation district foresters servicing over 50 counties throughout the state. These foresters are responsible for providing free technical assistance to private forest landowners. They are able to educate landowners about a wide variety of issues including — forest management, timber harvesting, tree planting, wildlife habitat, tree pest and disease identification, state and federal cost-share programs, tax incentive programs and more. Assistance can be in the form of phone conversations, site visits, office visits and referrals to forestry professionals. In addition to technical assistance, foresters also provide many educational opportunities in the form of workshops, news articles, tours and more.
FORESTRY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM The Michigan Forestry Assistance Program (FAP) is free technical assistance program for landowners in Michigan. FAP district foresters are employed by local conservation districts and are able to provide information to landowners about nearly everything forestry related. District Foresters are responsible for providing landowners with assistance in areas such as:
Landowner contacts their local FAP forester to set up a site visit.
During site visit, the FAP forester can discuss all questions you have regarding your property. They can also give recommendations for how to manage to the property to meet your goals.
If a landowner requires further assistance that cannot be provided by the FAP forester (such as writing a management plan, negotiating a timber harvest, etc.), the FAP forester can provide the landowner with a list of individuals that can provide the required service. OR
The landowner can request a referral by the FAP forester to natural resource professionals that can provide the required service.
HOW REFERRALS WORK
FAP foresters can provide referrals to the private sector on behalf of a landowner.
The FAP forester will send out a request for the landowner's required service (management plan, timber harvest, consultation, etc.) by email and online.
None of the landowner's personal information (name, address, etc.) will be listed in the referral.
When a forestry professional wants to take on a landowner's job, they will contact the FAP forester to express their interest.
The FAP forester will contact the landowner and provide them with the forestry professional's contact information.
The landowner can then contact the forestry professional to discuss the job further.
If there are no responses by forestry professionals for a service, the FAP forester will re-post the referral within 14 days of the original referral date. If there are still no responses within 28 days of the original referral date, the FAP forester will personally inquire with forestry professionals to find interested individuals.