Ecological management tools

The DNR is developing new tools such as Geographic Information Systems, Ecological Classification Systems, environmental indicators, and biological surveys, that better describe and predict how resources interact within ecosystems, and how they respond to human uses. The DNR is applying these tools over large geographic areas over long time frames.


Minnesota's Forest Bird Diversity Project

The Forest Bird Diversity Project is a model for using forest songbirds as ecological indicators to measure the health of forest systems. The project's overall goal is to develop landscape management tools to maintain Minnesota's unique diversity of forest birds. These tools will enable forest land managers to establish practical biodiversity benchmarks for particular ecosystems and guide forest development activities in more environmentally benign ways.

Start/ Finish Dates:
Pilot Phase 1991-1993; full project will take 10-15 years.

Project Contact:
Lee Pfannmuller, DNR Ecological Resources
Box 25,500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4025

Minnesota Biological Survey

The Minnesota Biological Survey (MBS) began in 1987 to assess biological diversity statewide. The survey's goals are to identify significant natural areas and to collect and interpret data on the distribution and ecology of natural communities, rare plants, and rare animals. This information, housed in the Natural Heritage Information System, serves as a foundation for the management and conservation of areas of ecological significance.

Start/Finish Dates:
1987 - 2010

Project Contact:
Carmen Converse - Division of Ecological Resources, Minnesota Biological Survey
Box 25, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul,  MN  55155-4025

Ecological Classification System

An Ecological Classification System (ECS) is a method to identify, characterize, and delineate Ecological Units at various scales for natural resource management. Ecological Units are segments of the landscape that have relatively uniform climatic, geophysical, and 'natural' vegetative attributes that cause them to behave and respond relatively uniformly and predictably. When Ecological Units are combined with inventories of existing vegetation, wildlife, and land use, they provide a framework for assessing land capabilities and limitations. An ECS will provide a common planning and management framework for Minnesota DNR, County, U.S. Forest Service, and private forest managers.

Start/Finish Dates:
1991-1996 pilot phase

Project Contact:
Dan Hanson, DNR Forestry
1201 East Highway 2, Grand Rapids, MN 55744

Minnesota Environmental Indicators Initiative

This project creates a framework for an integrated, statewide network for selecting and monitoring environmental indicators. The EII will provide the first statewide network for I ) understanding and forecasting ecosystem health status and trends, 2) assessing the ability of ecological systems to provide resource benefits, 3) anticipating emerging environmental problems, and 4) monitoring progress in maintaining and restoring ecosystems. Through the EII, consistent reporting of ecosystem status and trends will become routine in 2000-2001.

Start/Finish Dates:
This effort was initiated in 1993; it is a long term monitoring effort.

Project Contact:
Clarence Turner, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Box 10, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155

County Geologic Atlases and Regional Hydrogeologic Assessments

This effort provides detailed and comprehensive geologic and hydrogeologic information and interpretation to all government levels, especially local units. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Geological Survey cooperate to compile data and prepare databases, maps, and reports. This program will produce information fundamental to water resources management, ground water protection, water supply sustainability, facility siting, and economic development initiatives.

Start/Finish Dates:
DNR joined MGS in this project 1992. Several county atlases and surveys are finished; others just underway. Entire project will take 10-15 years.

Project Contact:
Sarah Tufford, Groundwater Administrator, 651-259-5715 or
Jan Falteisek, Project Manager 651-259-5665
DNR Division of Waters
500 Lafayette Rd, Box 32, St. Paul, MN 55155