Sustainable timber harvest analysis is under way

Draft anticipated for public review this fall

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources earlier this year began a project to determine the sustainable timber harvest level from DNR-administered forest lands, with consideration of implications for the greater forest ecosystem and economy. The initial phase of the project focused on gathering data and developing preliminary models, and the project has now moved into a phase of in-depth modeling and analysis.

The analysis will examine the sustainability of harvesting 1 million cords of timber per year from DNR-administered forest lands. If the analysis does not support that level of harvest, the DNR will use information from the analysis to determine the sustainable harvest level.

For the past 10 years, the DNR has offered about 800,000 cords of timber for sale annually. Previous state analysis supported that number given Minnesota’s timber inventory and forest management practices. Because forest management needs and opportunities change over time, the new analysis is a proactive step to re-evaluate the DNR’s sustainable timber harvest level.

As in previous reviews, this new analysis is more than a review of wood and fiber supply. A variety of environmental factors is being considered in the analysis, including biodiversity, wildlife habitat, water quality, tree productivity and invasive species. Economic factors will also be considered in the final report.

The DNR has contracted with the forestry management consulting firm, Mason, Bruce & Girard of Portland, Oregon to perform this independent, third-party analysis of the DNR’s timber harvest level. The DNR has engaged a diverse stakeholder advisory group representing timber and non-timber interests to work with staff and provide input throughout the process.

“The public is very interested in forest management activities and we want to remind people of the opportunity to follow the project and participate in the public comment period this fall,” said DNR forestry planner Jon Drimel. “We’ve developed a project webpage and email subscription list to make it easy for people to participate.”

A draft report will be available for public review and comment this fall, and a final report is expected in early 2018. For more information on the Sustainable Timber Harvest Analysis project and to sign up for email updates, visit the sustainable harvest page.