Program Information: Land Management

DNR forester leaning against tree talking with teachers

The DNR School Forest Program can provide support and resources to help you manage your land. However, the DNR will not manage your land for you, make specific requirements, or set your management objectives. It is up to you to identify your management priorities and carry them out. The DNR can:

  • Develop a long-term School Forest Stewardship Plan with you.
  • Advise and assist on easements, land ownership, restricted site use (such as ATVs, hunting, horses, etc.), trespass issues
  • Advise on site management, such as trails, invasive species removal, reforestation, etc.
  • Help you set up and guide timber harvests
  • Connect you to local resource groups for establishing rain gardens, trails, boardwalks, etc
  • Provide free Arbor Month tree seedlings each spring
Land Management
image: Man in the woods with clip board

The DNR School Forest Program can provide support and resources to help you manage your land. However, the DNR will not manage your land for you, make specific requirements, or set your management objectives. It is up to you to identify your management priorities and carry them out.

 

Stewardship Plan

image: DNR forester with management plan in handA stewardship plan is written by a forester. The forester will visit your site, meet with your School Forest committee to learn your goals, and write a plan specific to your needs. The primary goal of a stewardship plan is to increase the use of the School Forest for education.

Be prepared to meet with your forester by having educational and land management goals in mind. Site coordinators and school forest committees manage the site for the whole school. Consider doing a school-wide assessment, asking all teachers for input, to create goals that reflect the multiple needs and uses of the forest.

Examples of School-Wide Assessments

Stewardship plans are long-term site management plans. This means that even if school staff changes, the steps and goals of the plan stay the same. The School Forest Program keeps a copy of the stewardship plan and gives another copy to you.

A stewardship plan contains a list of your school's goals, the forester's assessment of the natural resources on your site (including a map), and recommendations of how to meet your goals.

Examples of School Forest stewardship goals:

  • Increase School Forest use
  • Design trail network and natural features to promote student, teacher, and community use
  • Improve the quality of wildlife habitat and timber resources
  • Establish or enhance original vegetation
  • Maintain health of the trees
  • To use the land as an education tool through a self-guided trail
  • To demonstrate timber harvests that will generate income
  • Reduce invasive species
  • Learn from the interactions of natural and human communities
  • Protect riparian areas
  • Reduce vandalism

Stewardship plans are site-specific and are intended to be used as a guiding document.

Stewardship plan Template

Sample stewardship plans

Site Development Ideas

Site features add uniqueness and character to a school forest. Even a few key features can make the site more usable, comfortable, and welcoming. Features can be designed as simple or elaborate as you desire and made from materials ranging from stumps and logs to finely crafted, pre-made purchased items. Check out site features from various school forests.

Harvesting

If you are considering any harvest on your School Forest, always contact your DNR forester first.

Harvesting or logging is a way to keep your forest healthy and can sometimes generate money. Harvesting might be a part of your Stewardship Plan.

Large Tract Harvest Options

School Forests with large tracts of land can generate a significant amount of money from selling timber (sale of stumpage) to a local mill.

To set up a sale, always call your DNR forester first. This service is free to all registered DNR School Forests. If you are approached by a logger or local business to log, contact yourDNR forester to ensure that you are able to maximize profit and maintain a healthy and diverse forest after the harvest.

The forester will mark the timber for sale and help you select a qualified logger. He or she can also finalize sale details such as how to harvest the timber, account for the wood and financial considerations, and reforest the site.

Remember, harvesting happens on long rotations. It might be 20, 30, 40, or more years before your site can be harvested again. Thus, your School Forest Committee will need to design the School Forest budget accordingly to reflect this long-term investment. Money generated from the sale of timber, or any forest product, from School Forest land should be used to support School Forest or other natural resource education activities.

Small Tract Harvest Options

For smaller School Forests sites, your DNR forester may recommend selective harvesting—such as removing hazard trees or less desirable species—to keep the forest healthy. In these cases, money is not generated from the harvest, or tree removal.

In some urban areas, 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.

Many smaller sites ask a community member to volunteer to remove the 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. Regardless of who fells the trees, be sure the people involved are either certified arborists or loggers to ensure proper safety measures are followed.

Ask your DNR forester for assistance if you are unsure of what you need.

If you do not know your DNR forester, locate your local DNR forestry office.