Harvesting decorative forest products

Decorative or "special" forest products means woody and herbaceous plants, plant parts, seeds, fungus, soil, gravel, and forest substrate for consumption, decoration, or medicine or for any other specialty use.

They can be used for a variety of purposes, including botanical and medicinal (e.g., ginseng), foods (e.g., mushrooms, berries), decorative (e.g., boughs, spruce tops, birch bark, ferns), seeding (restoration and nursery stock), woodwork (e.g., diamond willow sticks, burls), hay, and gravel.

Permits are required for harvesting special forest products from public lands in Minnesota. For DNR administered lands, the minimum cost for a permit is $25 and is limited to one permit per product per household at any given time. It is helpful if the harvest location is already identified, is verified as DNR administered land, and that proper harvesting guidelines are understood. At that time, contact the responsible DNR Forestry office to inquire about a permit. Permits for other public agencies can be obtained at the respective agency office.

Law Change

The 2019 Environment and Natural Resources Appropriations bill made several changes to the harvesting of decorative forest products or materials in Minnesota. The changes include:

  • Harvesters of boughs, birch poles, spruce tops, and other decorative forest products need written permission from the landowner or a permit from the public agency. On State forest land, a person harvesting decorative products must have a Special Product Permit for cutting any amount. A permit may be acquired at a local DNR office.
  • Buyers of boughs, birch poles and spruce tops must have a license to purchase more than 100 pounds of boughs, 50 spruce stems or branches greater than 6-inches in length or birch stems or branches greater than 1-inch in diameter. Decorative Materials Buyers license can be purchased at any licensed ELS vendor for $25. The license is listed under "Other" and then "Decorative Buyers" in the ELS system.
  • Buyers of decorative materials must record the harvester's name, address, government permit number, legal description or property tax ID number; they also must record landowner written consent information if the land is privately owned or for public land a permit number. Buyers may NOT purchase decorative materials from a seller who is unable to furnish all required information.
    Decorative Materials Buyer's Log
  • These changes align with established law regarding the harvesting and selling of boughs. The purpose of these new regulations to include spruce tops and birch poles is to responsibly manage and protect Minnesota's natural resources.

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