Minnesota has 15.9 million acres of forest land managed by a variety of county, state and federal agencies, and private landowners for timber production, wildlife habitat, and ecological considerations. Forest managers rely on inventory data to make effective planning and management decisions. Because forests are continually changing through natural and human processes, forest inventory data is periodically updated. However, doing so is an expensive and time-consuming endeavor and, as a result, much of Minnesota’s forest inventory data is currently out of date.
Native to the western United States and Canada, mountain pine beetle is considered the most devastating forest insect in North America. Trees usually die as a result of infestation and an unprecedented outbreak in the west is currently decimating pine forests there. While mountain pine beetle is not presently believed to reside in Minnesota, there are risks posed by an expanding species range resulting from warming climate and the potential for accidental introduction via lumber imports from infested areas.
This project will be the first of its kind Civic Engagement Cohort that focusses its efforts in an individual watershed. The Otter Tail River Watershed is scheduled to start a Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS) in 2016 and as a component of that project, the cohort will provide the civic engagement requirement. The cohort will be comprised of 25-30 individuals located throughout the watershed who represent a broad spectrum of resource managers and citizens who are familiar with water quality and watershed management.