Southeast Forest Habitat Enhancement
$910,000 in the first year is to the commissioner of natural resources to enhance forests in southeastern Minnesota. A list of proposed land enhancements must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan.
Healthier populations of endangered, threatened, and special concern species as well as more common species - Southeast Minnesota forests will be enhanced to provide biologically diverse wildlife habitat for both desirable game species and endangered, threatened, special concern, and species of greatest conservation need, providing multiple conservation benefits in the face of climate change, invasive species, and other major stressors, and increased satisfaction from hunters and other recreational users. Wildlife populations and hunter satisfaction will be monitored..
Blufflands forest habitat is threatened by invasive species and succession to less desirable northern hardwoods. This project combines invasive species removal and mast-producing hardwood tree planting and post-harvest release.
Many forest stands in Southeast MN are losing their hard mast component and converting to less desirable northern hardwoods, such as maple-basswood. Non-native species such as buckthorn and honeysuckle are also invading these stands. Oak and other mast-producting species are difficult to regenerate naturally, especially with the advanced age of many of these stands (65% of stands are over normal rotation age), so augmenting regeneration through invasive species removal and planting is required for success. Additionally, it is beneficial to conduct stand improvement activities in recently established stands to improve the stand's mast-producing species composition and condition by removing undesirable competing species, allowing favored species room to grow. Benefits to wildlife include promoting desirable species establishment and growth that also increase mast production of remaining trees, resulting in diverse forests that provide habitat and hard mast food sources for a variety of wildlife. Creating and managing younger stands will help to address age-class imbalances, and create more resilient stands to withstand threats such as insects, disease, and climate change. Stands will be selected for planting from the pool of stands on the annual stand exam list from the Blufflands/Rochester Plateau Section Forest Resource Management Plan that include the Whitewater Wildlife Management Area, Rochester Area State Wildlife Management Areas, and Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest. Stands selected for release will be identified from regeneration checks of stands harvested within the past 10-15 years. This project will receive financial support ($5,000/yr. for 4 years) from both the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association.