Early winter is the right time for woodland owners to plan improvements

Want to improve your wooded acreage for wildlife?  Early winter is a good time to begin planning woodland projects because there aren’t ticks, mosquitoes or deep snow.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has specially trained foresters – called stewardship foresters – around the state who can help. They can meet you on your property, assess tree health, and help you find the right programs to meet your woodland goals.

About half of Minnesota’s forested land and woodland wildlife habitat belongs to private landowners. Improving habitat for deer or grouse is often the primary reason woodland owners seek advice from a forester. DNR stewardship foresters can provide advice on completing small projects such as creating trails and wildlife openings, removing invasive shrubs and what trees to replant.

Cost-share funds are currently available in some areas of northeastern Minnesota to help landowners complete woodland management projects. Funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis and unused funds expire in June 2019.

In northeastern Minnesota, the following stewardship foresters are available to work with private landowners:

  • Alex Brothen, Brainerd area, 218-203-4428.
  • Troy Holcomb, Aitkin area, 218-429-3025.
  • Thor Pakosz, Duluth and North Shore area, 218-723-4791.
  • Amber Jungwirth, Hibbing area, 218-231-8026.
  • Josh Donatell, Grand Rapids area, 218-328-8912.
  • Steven Horndt, Tower area, 218-300-7826.
  • Ben West, Littlefork area, 218-278-6651.

Landowners who have 20 or more acres—on which at least 10 acres has or will have trees— may want to consider a Woodland Stewardship Plan. A Woodland Stewardship Plan assesses what is in your woods, suggests how to improve the woods, and outlines when to do work. Having and following a plan also can help qualify your woods for reduced property taxes or financial incentives.

“Managing your land doesn’t always mean having a large harvest,” said Troy Holcomb, Aitkin area stewardship forester. “Woodland management is all of the things you do to keep your woods healthy and beautiful.”

More information about the DNR’s forest stewardship program and contacts for stewardship foresters in other parts of Minnesota are available at www.mndnr.gov/foreststewardship.