Late on June 3 the DNR issued this press release announcing that the agency and Blandin Paper Company (UPM) have signed a binding agreement from the purchase of a working forest conservation easement on the 188,000 acre Upper Mississippi Forest Project. Here’s a link to coverage of the deal in today’s Star Tribune.

Congratulations again to all who helped make this historic deal possible, and to all Minnesotans who will benefit forever from this work. As Mike Kilgore is quoted as saying in the Star Tribune article, “This easement is a great buy for the citizens of Minnesota.”


ScandinaviaThey are rare in the often rough and tumble world of forest policy and practice, but sometimes it’s possible to point to tools that are especially helpful in delivering multiple public benefits from our forest resources – tools that are true silver bullets.

As described in a Dovetail Partners, Inc. report just out, The Power of Silviculture: Employing Thinning, Partial Cutting Systems and Other Intermediate Treatments to Increase Productivity, Forest Health and Public Support for Forestry, intermediate treatments have the potential to be a silviculturalists’ silver bullet.

Authored by Jim Bowyer and other Dovetail Partners, Inc. staff, the report is one of the products of Vital Forests/Vital Communities 2009 study tour project, Seeing the Forest AND the Trees: How to Make the Most of Minnesota’s Woods. As the report’s title suggests, a key “take away” from the study tours was the ability of intermediate treatments to increase multiple benefits – social, economic, and environmental – forests offer, AND increase public support for forestry. Blandin Foundation commissioned the report to support the work of one of the tour’s follow-on action teams, this one focused on the goal of increasing the use of intermediate treatments in Minnesota across ownerships.

As noted in the report, “There is now a considerable body of knowledge that suggests that wider adoption of intermediate treatments could increase both forest productivity and forest health. The possibility that public interest in and support for forestry might also be enhanced provides a win-win combination that could improve the outlook for profitable production of diversified forest products, including biomass in renewable energy production.”

When I put a copy into the hands of DNR State Forester Dave Epperly, who came by the Foundation today for a meeting with USFS Region Nine Forester Kent Connaughton, he brightened. “We at the DNR have been trying to increase the use of these treatments for several years; this report will help us make the case for why.”

Thanks to the DNR’s Meg Hanisch and Keith Jacobson for sharing the Division of Forestry’s summary of major 2008 legislative outcomes affecting our state’s forests.

Vital Forest/Vital Communities partners and programs had a positive impact on a number of the funding and policy decisions, including the appropriation for Forest Legacy conservation easements, the allocation to the Minnesota Forest Resources Council for a study of policy tools for preventing forest fragmentation and parcelization (co-funded by Blandin Foundation), the Minnesota Forests for the Future program and adjustments in the way sustainably managed woodlands are taxed.

Changing the way our woodlands are accessed and taxed was one of the key recommendations identified by participants in the 2006 and 2007 Family Forest Stewardship conferences as part of a strategy to achieve the goal, embraced by over 20 organizations, to increase the number of acres of family forestland with Forest Stewardship Management Plans from 1.3 million to 2.3 million by 2015.

Congratulations are particularly in order to Bruce ZumBahlen, his colleagues at the Minnesota Forestry Association, Jeff Forester and the Minnesota Seasonal Recreational Property Owners Association and Tom Kroll for their hard work on helping achieve these improvements to the Omnibus Tax Bill. Your vision, collaboration, and tenacity made it happen!