News release: Midpoint Assessment of Forest Management Strategic Direction: Sustainable Timber Harvest Implementation Report available

October 12, 2023

Data show alignment with goal of managing public forest lands to sustain multiple benefits

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has completed an evaluation of the first four years of implementing its forest management strategic direction for fiscal years 2019-2028. The resulting Midpoint Assessment of Forest Management Strategic Direction: Sustainable Timber Harvest Implementation Report contains the results of that evaluation.

“The midpoint assessment found that, based on available data, the DNR is successfully advancing the 10-year strategic direction for forest management,” DNR Forestry Division Director Patty Thielen said. “The results of this assessment will help us continue to ensure the forest lands that DNR stewards are sustainably managed for multiple forest benefits.”

The forest management strategic direction established by the DNR in 2018 is designed to move forest conditions on DNR-administered lands toward conditions that sustainably provide a range of forest benefits over time. Timber harvest is a key tool for initiating the disturbance necessary to create and maintain diverse forests, and therefore an important component of the strategic direction is the DNR’s determination of how much timber volume to offer for sale to achieve the disturbance needed.

Because the midpoint assessment covers the first four years of implementation, it focuses heavily on metrics related to timber volume, as these are the measures for which the DNR has sufficient data to evaluate. This does not mean that timber volume offered and sold is the end in itself. Rather, using timber volume as a metric helps the DNR to ensure that harvest-related forest management actions align with objectives to promote wildlife habitat, biodiversity, wood supply and healthy natural resource economies, carbon storage, forest health, recreation, and water quality and quantity on state-administered forest lands.

The report features case studies that illustrate how DNR forest management activities are aligned with the objectives for different types of DNR-administered lands and protect site-specific features such as the presence of endangered or threatened species. “For example, when designing a timber harvest, we protect rare plant and animal species at the site by identifying areas of no harvest, restricting the timing of management activities or making other management adjustments,” DNR Ecological and Water Resources Division Director Katie Smith said.

In addition to documenting progress implementing the forest management strategic direction, the report outlines some improvements for the second half of the implementation period. These include improving forest management coordination, more thoroughly documenting site-specific management objectives, and discontinuing a pilot to promote additional ash and tamarack management opportunities due to low sell and harvest rates for those species. The DNR is also completing section forest resource management plans and wildlife management area plans that will further inform forest management on DNR-administered lands.

“We’ve gained important insights over the past four years that will help us fine-tune our implementation of the strategic direction, which includes a commitment to managing for wildlife values on Fish and Wildlife-administered lands,” DNR Fish and Wildlife Division Director Dave Olfelt said.

The midpoint assessment is the most comprehensive effort to date to evaluate how the DNR is advancing its forest management strategic direction. Before the end of the ten-year planning period, the DNR will consider available data and updated analyses as well as stakeholder and partner perspectives, to determine whether and how to refine the strategic direction for the following ten years.

View the Midpoint Assessment Report online at the DNR’s Forest Management Strategic Direction webpage.

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