Forest management plans for the Hardwood Hills and Anoka Sand Plain Subsections fall within the Minnesota and Northeast Iowa Morainal Section. Both subsection plans were revised in 2012. An updated Operational Plan for the Sand Dunes State Forest within the Anoka Sand Plain Subsection was finalized in 2017 following an extensive public engagement process. For information on this process, please see our Sand Dunes State Forest Operational Plan website.
The Minnesota and Northeast Iowa Morainal Section will be the planning area going forward. This ecological section covers approximately 9.2 million acres, stretching nearly 350 miles from Polk County in northwestern Minnesota to the Iowa border, and includes approximately 33,650 acres of state-managed forest land. Glacial deposits, including rugged to hummocky moraines, drumlins composed of rolling till, and sand plains within moraines, define landforms in the section. The forest ecosystems within this ecological section include aspen and oak savannas and woodlands, mesic forests dominated by sugar maple, basswood, and northern red oak, and floodplain and terrace forests along river valleys. Defining or unique features of this part of the state include:
- A mosaic of vegetation types at the transition between prairie and forest biomes in Minnesota.
- Unique plant communities like the state imperiled Southern Dry Barrens Oak Savanna. Several rare species are restricted to this community, including native wild lupine, which larvae of the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly depend on.
- Numerous Species of Greatest Conservation Need including Blanding’s turtle, hognose snake, gopher snake, bobolink, dickcissel, greater prairie chicken, western grebe, Forster’s tern, Swainson’s hawk, creek heelsplitter, least darter, Ozark minnows, and redfin shiners.
- Major rivers, including the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, which support a high diversity of birds, stream fishes, and mussels.
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.