Harvesting trees

collage of four image showing different site features

Harvesting trees can keep your forest healthy and may even generate money. Sometimes the “right” trees are already there but are being crowded out. Other times, you many need to plant the trees and shrubs you want.

Harvesting might be a part of your Stewardship Plan. Always contact your DNR forester before harvesting.

Harvest options (20 acres or more)

School Forests with more than 20 acres can generate money by selling timber to a local mill. Ask your DNR forester if this is a good option for you and to learn how much your forest can earn for your school.

If a logger or local business approaches you, always contact your DNR forester before allowing anyone to remove trees. Your DNR forester can make sure you will maximize profit and maintain a healthy and diverse forest.

Your forester will:

  • Mark the timber for sale,
  • Help you select a qualified logger, and
  • Finalize sale details such as how to harvest the timber, account for the wood and financial considerations, and reforest the site.

Harvesting happens on long rotations. It might be 20, 30, or 40 years before your site can be harvested again. Your School Forest Committee will need to design the School Forest budget accordingly to reflect this long-term investment.
Make sure that any money generated from the sale of timber or any forest product from School Forest land is re-invested to support your school forest or other natural resource education activities.

Timber stand improvement options (20 acres or less)

School forests smaller than 20 acres should be managed to prevent overcrowding or remove hazard trees or less desirable species. These harvests do not generate money but keep your forest safe and healthy. Ask your DNR forester for advice.

Some urban school forests might need to pay to have trees removed. Your DNR forester can tag the trees to be removed and help find people to do the work.

Consider asking for community volunteers to remove specific trees or use the opportunity to demonstrate horse logging. Horse logging is still an active trade in Minnesota and a great way to remove small numbers of trees or trees that are difficult to reach and remove with modern equipment. No matter who fells the trees, make sure they are either certified arborists or loggers.

Teachable moment

Whether harvesting several acres, thinning trees out of an overgrown stand, or removing a single dying tree, use this opportunity to teach. Forestry work can trigger student emotions from wonder to discomfort. Visit the School Forest Activity Board for lessons. Here are some general tips.

  • Talk to you forester and learn why trees are being removed yourself so you can answer student questions.
  • Allow students to watch logging operations from a safe distance.
  • Offer logged wood to Eagle Scouts, local volunteers, or the high school shop class who can make benches, bridges, signposts, or other needed features in your school forest.
  • Use these Monitoring Forest Health worksheets (high school) before and after a harvest event.
  • Teach the story of succession - how forests regenerate after a blowdown, fire, or harvest.

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