In the second half of the nineteenth century, lumbermen logged the virgin pine forests of northern Michigan. The assumption was that the u plow would follow the axe, "and agriculture would dominate the region as it did in the southern half of the state. When farming did not quickly take root, William James Beai and Liberty Hyde Bailey led an expedition of scientists and journalists on a trip across northern Michigan in June 1888 to collect botanical samples, to find a site for a state forest reserve, and to recommend appropriate farming enterprises. This essay contends that without a key reforestation advocate in Charles Garfield the explorers focused too much on the questions related to botany and agriculture. While agriculture would ultimately thrive in some parts of the cutover, much of the region was unsuitable for intensive farming. The failure of the scientists to convey these limits adequately in newspaper articles and subsequent reports allowed for their work to be used by agricultural boosters throughout the region. The result was a cycle of erosion, fire, and farm abandonment that proved to be a political problem in Michigan for the first three decades of the twentieth century.

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