Forest stewardship

DNR forester and landowner walking in landowner's woodlands

The DNR Forest Stewardship Program helps woodland owners manage your woods through advice and education, cost-share programs, and Woodland Stewardship Plans. We work through a statewide network of DNR, public, and private foresters specially trained in forest stewardship. We are ready to help you achieve your woodland goals, whether it is to create wildlife habitat, increase natural beauty, improve trails, enhance environmental benefits, or harvest timber.

Deciduous forest in fall

Managing your woods

Forest management is all the things you do to keep your woods healthy and beautiful. This work tends to happen in small steps over multiple years. For example, if you want to improve wildlife habitat you may need to remove invasive plants to allow native plants to grow, and then plant the right trees to increase food for wildlife. After time, you may need to remove some trees to decrease competition between trees and increase the health of remaining trees. These actions make your woods attractive to wildlife and also provide environmental benefits. We use Woodland Stewardship Plans to help you organize and complete all of these steps.

Woodland stewardship plans

A Woodland Stewardship Plan helps you understand what is in your woods, how to improve them, and when to do work. A unique plan is developed for your woods based on your land management goals. The plan can help you stay on track over the long-term and keep your woods healthy and beautiful. Plans are written for woodland owners with 20 to 5,000 acres where at least 10 acres have or will have trees. Plans are updated every 10 years to stay current with your needs and your woods.

Plans are developed and written by foresters trained in woodland stewardship from the DNR, environmental organizations, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and consulting foresters. The cost for a Woodland Stewardship Plan depends on who writes it and the size of your woods.

While a DNR forester can write your plan, you can also hire another stewardship forester to do the work. Check out the interactive map of approved Minnesota Woodland Stewardship Plan writers on the U of M Extension's MyMinnesotaWoods webpage or ask a DNR forester for a list of plan writers in your area.

Financial benefits of a woodland stewardship plan

A Woodland Stewardship Plan registered with the DNR qualify you for woodland tax and financial incentive programs.

Cost-share Program: The DNR has cost-share funds available to help woodland owners complete projects to improve your woods (these are the steps outlined in your Woodland Stewardship Plan). A DNR forester works with you to develop a project plan. Project work can be done by you or a contractor. Sample projects include: wildlife and pollinator habitat improvement, tree planting, bud capping, invasive species removal, tree thinning, and forest road work. More information can be found on the DNR's Cost-share for Woodland Owners webpage.

Incentive Programs: The Minnesota Sustainable Forest Incentive Act (SFIA) jointly managed by Minnesota Department of Revenue and DNR is an incentive program to keep forests as forests on our landscape. Landowners with at least 20 acres of forest land under a registered Woodland Stewardship Plan may be eligible.

Minnesota offers a reduced property tax rate called 2c Managed Forest Land. Woodland owners who actively follow their registered Woodland Stewardship Plan may be eligible for a reduced property tax rate of .65 percent.

The Forest Stewardship Program is funded by the USDA Forest Service and run by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.