MCMILLAN– Basketball season is just around the corner and the players that make it to the Final Four need the best possible court to play on. And that means Upper Peninsula Maple.

“Maple is used for a couple reasons, the first one is it’s a very hard, durable wood with a very tight grain and the second one is it’s a very light colored wood which is desirable, people like light colored courts,” said Rich Bowman, Director of Government Relations for the Nature Conservancy, “we have the an abundance of hard maple here; most of the hard maple is grown in this part of the North American continent.”

Today the first tree needed for the Final Four court was cut down at the Tahquamenon Area School Forest and was sent to Conner Sport’s Mill in Amasa. The foresters had an excited audience of a little over 300 Newberry school students to watch them fall that tree and they were hoping these students would walk away with a better understanding of sustainability

“Cutting down trees is not bad, in fact cutting down trees is necessary,” said Connor Sports Director of Sustainability Jason Gasperich, “if this forest had not been properly managed over the last 50 years we’d been standing in an area that would almost be park–like. We’d have large trees, we’d have a heavy canapé overhead, but we don’t have that here.”

The students spent the day with Connors Sports and Forestry for a Sustainable Future to learn about the industry and the importance of making sure it remained sustainable, but also its impact in their community.

“I want them to have a sense of pride in what does on in their community, the NCAA Final Four is an event that is watched around the world,” Bowman said, “and part of what is going on with that that is a result of what happens in these kids’ communities.”