What is wildlife habitat management planning?

It is thoughtful, long-term planning for the wildlife and habitats on your land. Habitat management planning considers the landscape in which your land is located and what management practices are most appropriate and effective for its plants and animals. Development of long-term, realistic goals is very important. These goals can be determined by asking a series of questions:

  • What wildlife species occur in your landscape?
  • Which of these species do you want to benefit?
  • What are these habitat needs of these species?
  • Which of their habitat needs are met or are missing on your land and the surrounding land?
  • Which missing habitat needs can you realistically and sustainably provide on your land?
  • What habitat management practices are best used to provide those missing habitat needs and maintain desired habitat?

The following examples explain appropriate habitat management within landscapes and habitats found in Minnesota, along with contrasting management decisions that are discouraged. To learn more about your landscape, see Ecological Classification System information.

  • In open, prairie landscapes, restoration and maintenance of native grasses and forbs for grassland songbirds, prairie chickens, waterfowl and small mammals are appropriate. Tree plantations that fragment open landscapes are discouraged.
  • In semi-open, brushland landscapes, restoration and maintenance with prescribed burning, mowing or shearing is appropriate to sustain habitat for wildlife such as sharp-tailed grouse, loggerhead shrikes and elk. Planting trees or lack of management that allows forest to grow is discouraged.
  • In forest landscapes, restoration and maintenance of large, native forest patches with small openings of native forbs and shrubs is appropriate and benefits forest songbirds, bear, and deer. Clearing native forest to plant large, extensive food plots or build homes is discouraged.
  • For shallow, temporary wetlands that provide breeding habitat to amphibians and invertebrates to waterfowl in early spring, leaving them intact and functional is appropriate. Draining or filling them, or excavating a deep, open water pond in them is discouraged.

Learn to understand, appreciate and manage the native habitats and wildlife that occur on your land. Not every parcel of land can or should provide everything. For assistance in understanding what habitats and wildlife you can most effectively benefit in your landscape, contact your local DNR Wildlife private lands specialist. Being a good steward is a lifelong endeavor and the outcome is appreciated for generations!

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