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DNR making progress toward sustainable forestry plans in NW region

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Subsection Forest Resource Management Plan (SFRMP) for two major ecological subsections in north central Minnesota is nearing completion. The subsections, referred to as the Chippewa Plains and the Pine Moraines and Outwash Plains, cover approximately 4.6 million acres from Detroit Lakes on the west to near Deer River on the east, and from Kelliher on the north to Camp Ripley on the south. The SFRMP encompasses the 400,000 plus acres within the subsections that are managed by the Divisions of Forestry and Fish and Wildlife.

Initial planning efforts identified the current forest resource conditions and important forest management issues in these areas.

Currently, a Strategic Directions Document, or SDD, is being prepared to outline forest management strategies and actions. The SDD provides direction for which forest stands will be visited for re-inventory, harvest, regeneration or thinning in the short term, while also laying out a ten-year visitation schedule. In addition, a long-term (50+ years) goal for what the mixed forests of the region should look like is also established.

"The ultimate goal of this management plan is to ensure that Minnesota's forest resources are sustainable," says Mark Carlstrom, Planning Team Leader and Park Rapids Area Forest Supervisor. "The plan addresses the needs of Minnesota's forest products industry, which supports the state and local economies, and also accommodates and reflects the increasing demands for wildlife management, vegetative management, and identification and conservation of our unique forest resources on state lands."

The planning team, which includes DNR professionals from the Forestry, Fish and Wildlife and Ecological Resources Divisions, has considered a broad range of factors in preparing the SDD. Those factors include: sustainable forest production; managing for forest diversity and complexity; balancing timber age classes over time to support sustainable yields; identification of areas to be managed as older forest or extended rotation forest to accommodate diverse wildlife resources; historical forest conditions; creating patches of forest stands on the landscape; visual impacts along highways, lakes, rivers and streams; rare plant and animal species and cultural resources.

The team hopes to have a draft SDD completed and available for public review in early 2008. There will then be a 30-day public comment period. All comments received will be evaluated and appropriate revisions made, before the SDD is formally adopted by the DNR.