Conservation-based energy sources
Meeting energy needs while protecting the environment
Why is this important?
Energy is one of the biggest resource challenges—and opportunities—facing Minnesota and the nation today. Conservation-based energy sources are energy sources whose production provides natural resource benefits such as habitat management and restoration, invasive species control, fuel load reduction for prevention of catastrophic fires and improved prescribed fire management, carbon sequestration, and clean water. They include forest residues from timber harvesting, forest and brushland management, and fuel treatments; pulp and paper residues; and perennial native grasses used as bio-energy crops. Such energy sources provide an alternative to fossil fuels and can help Minnesota meet its renewable energy goals while improving the environment and strengthening rural economies.
DNR plays a key role in developing a conservation-based energy market in Minnesota. It serves as a transitional source for conservation-based energy while new processing technologies are implemented and markets develop. It also plays a role in setting the standard for best management practices for growing and harvesting biomass.
DNR's strategy is to promote conservation of natural lands and ensure a sustainable biomass supply by advancing the development of conservation-based energy sources across the state.
Sustainable biomass harvest: We will improve the planning, management, and evaluation of biomass harvest on DNR-administered grasslands and forest lands. DNR contributed to the development of the nation's first woody biomass harvesting guidelines as a foundation for sustainable forest biomass harvest. We will expand the sustainable woody biomass supply through innovative management and increased assistance to private landowners and other partners. In addition, we are harvesting and planting more local native prairie seed on DNR-administered lands to increase the availability of native prairie seed stocks for prairie reestablishment and biomass fuel production.
Establish strategic partnerships: We will boost conservation-based energy markets through coordinated outreach and project development on public and private lands.
Learn about how the DNR is meeting energy needs while protecting the environment.
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Woody Biomass and Habitat Restoration Pilot Project
Woody Biomass and Habitat Restoration Pilot Project: In 2007, DNR established a woody biomass project to facilitate the restoration of overgrown prairie, oak savanna and woodlands by removing undesirable woody vegetation and making the resulting woody material available for conversion to renewable energy. This involves a pilot project with District Energy St. Paul in removing buckthorn and other invasive shrubs from more than a dozen natural areas and trucking it to a biomass-to-energy plant.
Native prairie management and renewable energy sources
DNR pilot projects on Wildlife Management Areas in Stevens, Chippewa, and Kandiyohi counties are exploring the feasibility and habitat management benefits of using perennial native grasses for fuel. We hope these projects will show that it's possible for conservation lands to provide renewable energy without creating land use conflicts or compromising conservation values. The projects also provide experience that can be transferred to growing energy crops on private lands while enhancing wildlife and water quality.
Forest biomass harvest
DNR offers woody biomass, forest residues leftover from timber harvesting, in many of its timber sales.
Long term desired outcomes
- Renewable energy is produced while restoring and maintaining natural lands and biodiversity.
- DNR models the way for expanded use and production of conservation-based energy sources.
- Healthy, functioning watersheds and landscapes provide diverse ecological, economic, and recreational benefits.