August 2008

Thanks to Dovetail Partners Executive Director Katie Fernholz for news that the Aitkin SWCD’s Forestry Services have recently completed the first annual audit of its forest certification program.

Membership in the program has doubled since it began in 2006. This success significantly advances a key objective of Blandin Foundation’s Vital Forests/Vital Communities Initiative — to increase the number of acres of private woodland and number of forest product companies under third party certification. Please join all of us on the Blandin team in congratulating Aitkin SWCD Director Dennis Thompson, his staff and members, on crossing this important milestone. And consider joining them on Saturday, August 16th for a hands-on demonstration of responsible and low-impact logging techniques.

11 AUGUST 2008
CONTACT: Dennis Thompson, 218-927-6565

Aitkin SWCD Forestry Services Grow
Logging Demo August 16th

(Aitkin, MN ) – The Aitkin County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) recently completed the first annual audit of its forest certification program. The program has continued to grow since it was started in 2006.

“We’ve doubled the membership in the program since the initial group signed-up, and members are now able to market everything from certified pulpwood and sawlogs to balsam boughs and burls,” says Dennis Thompson, Aitkin SWCD Forester.

The opportunity to certify non-timber forest products such as burls for wood turning, balsam boughs, natural Christmas trees, and spruce tops was recently added to the program.

“Some landowners may not have a timber harvest planned for their land, but are interested in other products they can market. Now our program can help them responsibly manage non-timber forest products to the same high standards,” says Thompson.

The program was started with support from the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) and a grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

“The opportunities offered by the Aitkin SWCD are unique in the state, and I hope landowners in Aitkin County continue to sign up for the program,” says Katie Fernholz, Executive Director of Dovetail Partners and project partner.

The Aitkin SWCD, Minnesota Forestry Association (MFA), and the Northwoods Forestry Cooperative are hosting a logging demonstration on Saturday, August 16th. Landowners are welcome to come learn about responsible and low-impact logging techniques.

For more information about the certification program or logging workshop, contact Dennis Thompson at the Aitkin SWCD, 218-927-6565.


We just got word from Mike Kilgore at the U of M Department of Forest Resources about a new study they published in July.

Here’s the background: In 2005, the MN Association of County Land Commissioners commissioned a study of Minnesota’s nearly 3 million acres of county-administered tax forfeited forest land (TFFL). The purpose of the study was to describe the characteristics, uses, and management of MN’s TFFL; assess how the use and management of TFFL changes following their sale from public to private interests, and characterize the economic impacts associated with retaining TFFL in public ownership versus selling this land base to private interests.

The report can be accessed at the U of MN, Department of Forest Resources website.

I asked Bob Krepps, chair of the Minnesota Association of County Land Commissioners, how the commissions will use the information found in the study. Here’s his response:

The study provides a baseline for moving into the future of the management of the Tax-Forfeited Forest Land base. The study provides a point of reference that can be used by County Boards and Land Departments in making recommendations and decisions regarding retention or sale of parcels of TFFL.

It covers a variety of economic and social values provided by TFFL. The consideration of both the economic value and the other less apparent values of the land are paramount in making management decisions for both short and long term benefit of the citizens of the respective counties. Forest Management of the TFFL lands, while having a direct economic benefit, also provides for open space, quality water, wildlife and other less quantified values such as storage of carbon, air quality and benefits for the climate.

and it will provide a platform for discussion and debate over the future management of the TFFL in Minnesota.

The Blandin Foundation, through its Vital Forest / Vital Communities Initiative, was privileged to help support this research in service to our objective to “maintain MN’s forest resource base and reduce losses caused by conversion, parcelization and fragmentation of private lands and disposal of public lands.”

Thanks to Dave Chura from the Minnesota Logger Education Program for bringing the following opportunity to our attention.

Biomass Harvesting: Planning, Design & Implementation will provide information on – and a firsthand look at – the practical implementation of the Minnesota’s biomass harvesting guidelines including: sale design, management considerations and harvest activities. Further, this workshop will include an observation of an active sale where biomass is being harvested and processed on site. This workshop is targeted at resource managers, loggers and landowners who are interested in biomass operations and site-level implementation of Minnesota’s Biomass Harvesting Guidelines (BHGs).

Workshop Dates and Locations:
August 12- Deep Portage Conservation Reserve, Hackensack
August 26 – U of M Cloquet Forestry Center, Cloquet

Register today by clicking here.

NOTE: This is not an Introduction to Minnesota’s New Biomass Harvesting Guidelines.