Northern Minnesota & Ontario Peatlands Section

Forest Resource Management Plan

The Northern Minnesota and Ontario Peatlands Section Forest Resource Management Plan (NMOP SFRMP) guides forest management activities in the NMOP Section as the DNR implements its strategic forest resource management direction and 10-year stand exam list. It provides forest vegetation management goals, general direction, and strategies for DNR-administered forest lands in the section. It also identifies management opportunity areas, such as ruffed grouse management areas and old forest management complexes, and guides management within them.
The new NMOP SFRMP updates management guidance for the NMOP Section, which was previously provided by the Agassiz Lowlands and North 4 SFRMPs. Going forward, DNR forest managers will use this plan’s guidance when making forest management decisions.
In 2020, The NMOP SFRMP was shared for input with tribal agencies near the NMOP Section and the public. The DNR Commissioner put the plan into effect in September 2022.

Northern Minnesota and Ontario Peatlands information

map showing the location of the northern minnesota and ontario peatlands sectionThe Northern Minnesota and Ontario Peatlands (NMOP) Ecological Section covers nearly 5.3 million acres in north-central Minnesota adjacent to the Canadian Border, including approximately 1.17 million acres of state-administered forest land. The section includes all or part of Roseau, Lake of the Woods, Koochiching, St. Louis, Itasca, Beltrami, and Clearwater counties. The most significant blocks of DNR-administered land within the section are the Beltrami, Koochiching, Pine Island, and Kabetogama State Forests and the Red Lake Wildlife Management Area.
Flat and poorly drained topography characterize much of the NMOP Section, and about half of it consists of clayey deposits from Glacial Lake Agassiz. These features underlie extensive peatlands that support forest ecosystems such as tamarack and black spruce swamps, spruce bogs, and other forest ecosystems, including mesic and wet forests of mixed conifer and boreal hardwood species, white cedar, or black ash. Uplands harbor aspen-birch and fire-dependent jack pine or red pine forests.
Defining or unique features of this part of the state include:


  • three of Minnesota's 11 largest lakes, Upper Red, Lower Red, and Lake of the Woods, which are remnants of Glacial Lake Agassiz
  • major rivers, including the Rainy, which forms the northern boundary of the section, and the Minnesota, Big Fork, and Littlefork rivers
  • unique peatland plant communities that harbor rare or unusual species, including carnivorous plants and orchids
  • large tracts of undeveloped land in public and tribal ownership (Red Lake Nation)
  • a diversity of northern wetland birds, especially associated with Lake of the Woods, including white pelicans, American bitterns, migratory waterfowl, and migratory shorebirds, and boreal birds associated with swamps and bogs
  • Species in Greatest Conservation Need, including Canada lynx, gray wolf, northern bog lemmings, spruce grouse, short-eared owls, sharp-tailed grouse, bald eagles, black-backed woodpeckers, yellow rails, boreal owls, boreal chickadees, Connecticut warbler, red-necked grebes, bog coppers, and lake sturgeon
  • forestry and tourism/recreation, including hunting and fishing, are the most significant land uses in the section, with black spruce, jack pine, and quaking aspen the most common species utilized for pulp and sawlogs

The NMOP SFRMP's preliminary assessment document includes additional background information about the section, including resource trends and conditions. (Note: This document, developed in 2014, contains descriptions of the SFRMP process that predate changes made to how the DNR sets its strategic forest resource management direction and 10-year stand exam lists. For more information on the current process for developing these plan components, visit the DNR’s sustainable timber harvest analysis, decisions, and planning webpage.)
Direct comments or questions about this plan to: [email protected]