DNR announces new operational plan for Sand Dunes State Forest

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources today released a new plan guiding management of the Sand Dunes State Forest near Zimmerman for the next five years. The revised operational plan arose from a series of meetings with local landowners, conservationists and others. 

“After hearing stakeholder concerns about the original 2013 plan, we led an extensive public engagement process that informed this revised approach,” said Forrest Boe, director of the DNR Forestry Division. “The new plan does a good job of balancing a variety of values and interests.”

The revised plan addresses stakeholder concerns about timber management, recreational opportunities, forestry roads, and School Trust land management, as well as addressing rare species management. The plan also addresses several specific concerns that arose during the public engagement process, such as aesthetic considerations related to timber harvests next to private lands, and tree management within the Ann Lake Campground.

The operational plan is based in sound natural resource science and reflects the DNR’s goal of sustainable forest management for economic, environmental, and recreational benefits.

The plan shortens the management timeframe from 50 years in the 2013 plan to 10 years. It also provides more direction related to recreation, School Trust lands, and forest roads. Science-based adaptive management tools will be used to inform decisions on restoring, protecting, and managing rare plants and wildlife.

“The DNR will continue to engage with people interested in the Sand Dunes State Forest through regular updates and meetings,” Boe said. “We want to build on the relationships we’ve developed over the past year and a half.”

Sand Dunes State Forest, established by the Minnesota Legislature in 1945, consists of about 6,000 acres that are owned and managed by the state. It features a variety of plant communities and landscapes—including pine plantations, rare sand dunes, wetlands, woodlands, oak savanna, and prairie. It is home to more than two dozen rare plants and animals. Located in Sherburne County about an hour northwest of the Twin Cities, it is the closest state forest to the Twin Cities metro area. The forest is a popular recreation destination for hikers, horseback riders, hunters, campers, and others.

The revised plan, along with further information about the public engagement process, can be found on the project website at mndnr.gov/forestry/sand-dunes/index.html.