Forest Management Plan
Forest management plans for the Chippewa Plains and Pine Moraines & Outwash Plains Subsections, and the St. Louis Moraines and Tamarack Lowlands Subsections, fall within the Northern Minnesota Drift and Lake Plains Section. During development of those plans, the St. Louis Moraines and Tamarack Lowlands Subsections were part of a planning unit called “North-4,” that also included the Nashwauk Uplands and Littlefork-Vermillion Uplands Subsections. The Chippewa Plains and Pine Moraines & Outwash Plains SFRMP was revised in 2009 The North-4 SFRMP was revised in 2010.
The Northern Minnesota Drift and Lake Plains Section will be the planning unit covering this area going forward. This ecological section covers nearly 8.4 million acres in the north-central part of the state and includes approximately 688,000 acres of state-managed forest land.
The Northern Minnesota Drift and Lake Plains Section is characterized by deep (200-600ft [60-180m]) glacial deposits in outwash plains, lake plains, till plains, outwash channels, moraines, and drumlin fields. The forest ecosystems within this ecological section include mesic forests of sugar maple, basswood, paper birch, aspen, and northern red oak; fire-dependent jack pine and red pine forests and woodlands; mixed forests of conifer and boreal hardwood species; and expansive areas of bog and swamp forests in the eastern part of the section. Defining or unique features of this part of the state include:
- The iconic headwaters of the Mississippi River and Itasca State Park.
- Over 3,500 lakes, including three of Minnesota’s Large Lakes greater than 15,000 acres (Cass, Leech, and Winnibigoshish).
- The Leech Lake Reservation and Chippewa National Forest lie in the north-central part of the section, the eastern portion of the White Earth Reservation covers the western edge of the section, and the southern edge of the Red Lake Reservation touches the north-west edge of the section.
- Habitats created by diverse, extensive forests and lakes harbor numerous Species of Greatest Conservation Need including gray wolves, bald eagles, sharp-tailed grouse, yellow rails, red-necked grebes, black-backed woodpeckers, red-shouldered hawks, northern goshawks, least darters, eastern hognose snakes, Blanding’s turtles, and four-toed salamanders.
- The Tamarack Lowlands Subsection is an important wintering area for boreal birds including great gray owls, boreal owls, northern hawk owls, pine grosbeaks, red crossbills, and pine siskins.
- Most important land uses of this heavily forested section include forestry, tourism, and recreation, including hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, and skiing. Agriculture is important locally in the western, and some areas of the eastern, parts of the section.
The section forest resource management plan outlines the planning process, forest vegetation management goals and directions, and implementation strategies for state-administered lands in the Section. It also identifies management opportunity areas, such as ruffed grouse management areas and old forest management complexes around old growth stands, in the Section.