Trends in land use and ownership in Cheboygan County, Michigan

TitleTrends in land use and ownership in Cheboygan County, Michigan
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication1954
AuthorsSturgeon EE
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages355 pp.
UniversityUniversity of Michigan
CityAnn Arbor, MI
KeywordsLAND USE

The purpose of this study is to determine the trends in land use and in the State and private ownership balance in Cheboygan County, Michigan, as affected by socio-economic development and by the policies of the Michigan Department of Conservation in administering State properties. A broad description of the County and the population is presented, including social, economic, and political factors related to ownership and use of land. The changes is total area devoted to agriculture, forestry, and recreation are indicated. The quality of lands in State ownership is described by classifying them according to Schoenmann's land types. Emphasis is placed on the uses, quality, and ownership characteristics of lands sold by the State of Michigan to private owners in Cheboygan County from 1936 to 1947 in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the policies of the Department of Conservation in selling selected tax-reverted lands to private owners. The natural features of the County and the development of lumbering, agriculture, and recreation are described to provide a setting for the analysis of trends in ownership and land use. Change in population number, distribution by age groups, and shifting of residence according to changing land-use patterns are indicated. Considerable space is given to local economy. The relative importance of agriculture, manufacturing, recreation, and forestry is discussed according to incomes produced and areas devoted to each rural land use. The relationship of the County economy to that of the region is developed and the effect on the County of down-state urban areas is pointed out. County government costs are enumerated for each function and compared with other selected counties in Michigan. Tax burdens are evaluated in terms of present tax delinquency. More land is used for forestry and recreation than for agriculture. Lands used for agriculture increased to a high mark in 1945 when they comprised 30% of the County area. By 1950 they had decreased to 27%. Area devoted to crops and pasture declined while only farm woodlot area increased. About 72% of the County is forested. Approx. 50% of the land area is devoted to growing trees for timber, an increase of 19% from 1938. State forests comprise 38% of this area and 12% are in private ownership. Only a small area of either State or private forest lands are under intensive forest management. The privately-owned area used for recreation has more than doubled since 1938, although it accounts for only 14.5% of the County area at present. The 175,000 acres of State forest are used for hunting, fishing, camping, and other recreational uses in addition to timber and game production. State ownership increased in area by approx. 60,000 acres since 1938. About 30% of the increase was comprised of lands variably suited for agriculture. Of the 20,571 acreas sold by the State to private owners from 1935 to 1947, 25.7% are used for pasture, 18.6% for growing and harvesting timber, 15.1% for speculation, 10.9% for hunting, and 9.4% for farm woodlots. All percentages for lands used for summer residence, crops, rural residence, orchard, and unknown uses total 10.9%. More than 58% of the lands sold by the State are in the better land types. By correlating uses of these lands with land capability, it is carefully estimated that 84% will remain in private ownership continuously, barring too intensive use, a change to an inappropriate use with respect to soil capability, or a severe depression. 1. Cheboygan County lies in the glaciated, cut-over region of Northern Michigan which has been a problem area during the past 30 years because of low forest volumes, generally infertile soils and a short growing season for agriculture, and relatively long distance to markets. ... 2. The majority of the soil types of the County are infertile for an intensive type of agriculture. ... 3. Approximately 70 per cent of the county is forested with second-growth stands. The aspen type comprises 45% by area, mixed hardwoods 30%, swamp conifers 15%, and jack, red and white pine types 10% ... 4. The whitetail deer is the most important game animal to the County economically. ... 5. The first settlers who came to the County in 1844 were lumbermen. These were followed shortly by farmers. When the County was organized politically in 1855, there was a population of about 300. ... 6. The economy before 1900 developed around the white pine lumbering industry. In the peak year of production, 1896, 16 mills sawed roughly 200 million board feet of lumber. ... 10. Commercial fishing has declined to insignificance because of the inroads made on the fisheries resource by the lamprey. ... 12. Downstate urban areas influence Cheboygan County primarily through the use of the County's recreational resources. ... 14. Agriculture was the largest industry in the County after the white pine lumber industry moved out. ... 15. About 72% of Cheboygan County is forested. ... 16. The first tourists to visit Cheboygan County probably came from Mackinac Island as early as 1870 to enjoy boating, bathing, and fishing on Mullett and Burt Lakes. ... 17. Cheboygan County ranks eighth among the counties in Michigan according to area of State-owned land and fifth according to percentage of State-owned land with county boundaries. ... 18. An intensive study was made of 20,571 acreas of land sold by the State from 1936 to 1947. ... 19. The economy of Cheboygan County has shifted from one primarily lumbering in 1900 to the present one dependent on agriculture, light industry, and recreation. ...Cheboygan County has survived the transition from white pine lumbering to the present with considerable detriment to the land and a loss of 23% of the peak population. There are evidences of gradual adjustment toward better land use, stabilization of the population number, and an improved economy due largely to an increased recreation business.