Sustainable timber harvest analysis

Select harvest

Implementing the sustainable timber harvest target on DNR-managed forest lands

An interdisciplinary DNR team is working to implementing the sustainable timber harvest target. The team developed direction to modify the DNR’s FY2019 annual stand exam list and identified an approach for the ash and tamarack initiative. Currently, they are translating the new target, statewide analysis, and modeling for application to individual DNR Section Forest Resource Management Plans in the near future.

To accomplish this work, Mason, Bruce & Girard continues to assist the DNR team in revising the timber harvest model to incorporate all elements of the DNR’s sustainable timber harvest decision. We expect modeling work to continue through early fall, and intend to resume the SFRMP revision process later this fall. The SFRMP revision process will include additional opportunities for stakeholder engagement.

Sustainable timber target decision

In March 2018, DNR set a new 10-year sustainable timber target of 870,000 cords offered for sale annually from DNR-managed forest lands. The decision came after more than a year of rigorous scientific analysis, discussions with key partners, including conservation organizations and forest industry, and public input.

Under the sustainable timber harvest target of 870,000 cords offered annually, DNR-managed forest lands will continue to sustain Minnesota's rich biodiversity, provide healthy, thriving wildlife habitat, support our state economy, contribute to clean air through carbon storage, and keep our water clean.

Beyond the 870,000 cords, DNR also launched a special five-year initiative that could offer up to 30,000 additional cords of ash and tamarack annually in response to the threat posed by emerald ash borer and eastern larch beetle, two forest pests that kill ash and tamarack trees.

For more detailed information, please review the project documents:


Good forest management includes periodic review of timber harvest levels and their impact to the greater forest ecosystem and economy. In December 2016, Governor Dayton requested the DNR analyze the sustainability of harvesting one million cords of timber per year from DNR-managed forest lands. If the analysis determined that an annual harvest of one million cords was not sustainable, the governor asked DNR to identify an alternative sustainable harvest target. Mason, Bruce & Girard  (MB&G), an independent contractor, conducted the analysis, and a stakeholder advisory group provided input.

More than 140 individuals or groups provided comments that were shared with MB&G for consideration in their final report; the DNR also considered these comments in making the harvest level decision.

DNR strives to provide a stable, quality source of wood fiber to industry in a manner that is sustainable and conserves Minnesota's state forest resources into the future. A variety of environmental and economic factors were considered in the analysis. The final MB&G report provides important benchmarks for the amount of timber harvested from DNR-managed forest lands.

Forest benefits considered in the analysis

  • Timber productivity
  • Wildlife habitat
  • Biodiversity
  • Water quality and water quantity
  • Forest community health and invasive species
  • Economic impact

DNR contracted with MB&G to complete the modeling and analysis work for this project. Last summer, MB&G developed a "Phase I" progress report  on the initial work for this project. That initial work was as a launching point into more in-depth modeling and analysis that resulted in the "Phase 2 Sustainable Timber Harvest Analysis Draft Report ." DNR created an Introductory Video to help explain how the analysis was conducted. After public comment and stakeholder group input, the MB&G final report was issued in February 2018.


  • Stakeholder advisory group engagement: Dec 2016–Spring 2018: completed
  • Contractor work: April 2017–February 2018: completed
  • Draft report available for public comment: December 2017: completed
  • Final report to Governor's office: Spring 2018: completed

Stakeholder advisory group

In 2016-2017, a group of fourteen citizens representing a broad range of interests in forestry, wildlife habitat, conservation impacts, and the timber industry met to inform the sustainable timber harvest analysis. Their contributions were a valuable part of the process.

Group members represented: Blandin Paper, Izaak Walton League, Potlatch, Minnesota Forest Industries, U.S. Forest Service, Minnesota Deer Hunter's Association, Minnesota Forest Resources Council, The Nature Conservancy, Ruffed Grouse Society, Fond Du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Audubon Society, University of Minnesota, Timber Producer's Association, and Minnesota Association of County Land Commissioners. In addition, DNR staff from the divisions of Forestry, Wildlife, and Ecological and Water Resources participated in the stakeholder advisory group.

Comments or questions about the sustainable timber harvest analysis can be sent to:

Email: [email protected]

Mail to: Sustainable timber harvest analysis project
500 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155

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