Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Dave Quindt

Dust-up in MN over timber harvest on state land

Recommended Posts

Dave Quindt

Passing this one along; curious as to what the MN contingent's take on this one.  Logical push back from professionals or an undue attachment to old trees at the expense of young trees?

 

As always, let's try to keep partisanship and media-bashing out of it.

 

FYI,

Dave

 

https://www.mprnews.org/story/2019/08/15/dnr-staff-agency-leaders-disregarding-wildlife-concerns-in-timber-harvest-plan

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
RuffChaser

We have an abundance of habitat in MN that is open to the public. Not as much as some western states but compared to most I think we have a good amount of available land.  For forests species those lands include the following. I list them from what i feel are lands that are logged the most at the top to the least at the bottom.

 

  • County Land: This is mostly land people tried to farm and failed. They walked away and the land and owed tax money on it. The counties reclaimed this land. The counties generally do a good job logging this land and it is a pretty good source of income for them when the timber market is good. The most logging I see is on County land.
  • Paper Company Land: You'd think this would be logged the most but I'm not sure it is. I don't hunt this as much as i used to so I may be wrong here. What complicates this is the paper companies receive a tax break to keep their land open to the public. If that goes away so does this land.
  • WMAs: Much of these lands are more in pheasant areas but there are a decent number in forested areas. These are logged bu IMO not as much as County Land.
  • State Forests: IMO these areas have large tracts of land that hasn't been logged in a  long time.
  • National Forests: As in most areas around the US our National Forests seem to be logged way under their own targeted goals. The MN DNR does not control the logging on these lands.
  • State Parks: There are only a few of these that are open to hunting and of those that are there are only small areas within them where hunting is allowed. I don;t know that they do any logging on these. Maybe some cleanup from wind storms where trees are downed by high winds but I'm not sure.

Several years the ago the residents of MN, me included, voted to pass an amendment that dictates an added small percentage of sales tax to go to the environment. That tax is applied for 25 years and then will need to be voted on again to continue it. All in all I believe it has been a good program so far. The biggest issue is keeping the lawmakers from screwing it up and stealing the money for other purposes. The tax money is divided up between different areas for land, water, and educational purposes. Much of that money has been going to purchasing land and some to improving habitat on existing lands. I will never say No to purchasing more land for the public, however, if those lands aren't managed for the species they are targeted for then you are getting to a point of diminishing returns on that investment. MY hope is more of that money will start going into habitat restoration to improve the existing lands we have and see what can be done to the State and National Forests to drive more habitat work there.

 

As far as the rift in the DNR that surprises me a little bit. All of the DNR people I know would be very much in support of logging where it's needed and where it is best used as a tool to improve forest habitats.

 

I'm not sure this answers the question but this is my take on MN public lands relative to forest birds.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MNice

There are a few UJ members that are closer to this discussion than I however I would like to point out a few observations relative to the prime grouse range of MN. First off, "wildlife managers" are tasked with managing Wildlife Management Areas (WMA's) and DNR managed forests. These areas constitute a very small percentage of public lands in the prime grouse range and any change would not have any measurable impact. Secondly, any changes would not directly affect county managed lands which account for a majority of public lands open to recreation. IMHO.

 

On a side note, I've scouted and hunted a few WMA's in the primary grouse range and most are void of wildlife, except those mainly focused on waterfowl habitat. One particular WMA we visited last season during the main woodcock migration, we now refer to as "The Dead Sea" as the clear cuts were dying off and not producing sustainable habitat for anything except for maybe mosquitos.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
RuffChaser
5 minutes ago, MNice said:

There are a few UJ members that are closer to this discussion than I however I would like to point out a few observations relative to the prime grouse range of MN. First off, "wildlife managers" are tasked with managing Wildlife Management Areas (WMA's) and DNR managed forests. These areas constitute a very small percentage of public lands in the prime grouse range and any change would not have any measurable impact. Secondly, any changes would not directly affect county managed lands which account for a majority of public lands open to recreation. IMHO.

 

 

 

 I amended my reply to add a comment specific to this. The MN DNR has no control over logging on National Forests. Also, while I didn't explicitly state it they don't on the county lands either. This is part of what MNice was explaining in his response.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
123

There are some really big WMA 's in this state and they typically have a DNR manager attached to them that is mandated to keep them healthy.  It is not surprising that some of those people are bothered that they may have their management plan overridden so to speak.  It is also wise to remember that MN is a big state with prairie, northern forest, and southern hardwoods to think about. Reading between the lines I think folks are unhappy with taking 75% of the oak out of a large tract in the SE part of the state. Personally I think that is indeed a bad idea and will cause some real problems with Buckthorn and do nothing to increase wildlife habitat for any thing that I can think of and may do some real harm. Big tracts of mature hardwood is rare and cool, jmo.  I don’t know too many people who have an issue mowing down more aspen, but there may be some that are trying to protect old stands of white pine, fir, and spruce that are also cool.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
caleb

These seem like valid concerns:

 

Quote

the letter says the Whitewater wildlife management area in southeast Minnesota is slated to have about 75 percent of its oak trees up for potential harvest.

 

If that many trees are cut, the letter says, it “will put the entire [area] at risk for severe invasive species infestations.”

 

In Karlstad, the other corner of the state, wildlife managers say more harvest is needed to support species like the sharp-tailed grouse, which need open land and brushland habitats, the letter said.

 

My armchair amateur guess is that the issue isn't really the total number of cords, it's that they want to harvest a bunch of mature hardwood near the population centers.

 

I'd like to see them leave the oaks alone and cut out the mature popple stands, but I'm also guessing that's not an attractive financial bargain.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dave Quindt
5 hours ago, caleb said:

These seem like valid concerns:

 

 

My armchair amateur guess is that the issue isn't really the total number of cords, it's that they want to harvest a bunch of mature hardwood near the population centers.

 

I'd like to see them leave the oaks alone and cut out the mature popple stands, but I'm also guessing that's not an attractive financial bargain.

 

What I'm confused by is the phrase "potential harvest"; does that mean if the plan is approved 75% of the trees would be removed or that 75% of the trees would be in the pool from which removed trees would be chosen? 

 

And I've got to ask, why does the mature popple get to go and the mature oaks get to stay?  Or said more accurately, why does the young popple forest get to thrive at the expense of the young oak forest? My guess is that MN has an abundance of young popple stands and relatively little young oak stands. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ScottGrush
11 hours ago, Dave Quindt said:

 

What I'm confused by is the phrase "potential harvest"; does that mean if the plan is approved 75% of the trees would be removed or that 75% of the trees would be in the pool from which removed trees would be chosen? 

 

And I've got to ask, why does the mature popple get to go and the mature oaks get to stay?  Or said more accurately, why does the young popple forest get to thrive at the expense of the young oak forest? My guess is that MN has an abundance of young popple stands and relatively little young oak stands. 

Right on. 

From what I have seen oak needs to be cut to regenerate and it needs to be cut HARD. Going in and opening canopy is good but coming in that second time 10 to 15 years later is better.

Add in a low heat fire and you really have some good oak regen. We treat our oaks like hardwood stands and it suffers for it IMO. We have a lot of 100 year old oak and hardly any 50 year old oak, a few roadside sub 20 year old oak because a road grader rolled some soil over an acorn  but absent of those we are missing an entire generation of oak .....again IMO. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Joel S.

Lots of questions here.

They say 28 wildlife managers object, but out of how many total and which parts of the state?

 

Fearing too much old forest being cut, look around outside the WMA's. The private lands aren't being cut as they are fragmented ownership. So there will always be older forest around them. In fact, lots of DNR hand-wringing recent years has been about forests- like along the Superior North Shore- growing too old, and being replaced with maple and other warming climate species. 

Who wins with older growth? Woodpeckers, raptors, moose, elk, thrive. Could this be about the planned reintroduction of Elk to an area roughly from Cloquet down to Hinkley and over to the Wisconsin border?

 

It's almost laughable that anyone wants more old popple stands. The stuff only lives to about 40 years old, then blows over, and becomes a forest fire threat, after a big wind storm. And it's not that great a wildlife habitat anyhow. Nice place to hang a deer stand though, to catch them moving between younger forest edges where they feed, and to pines to loaf in. 

 

Minnesota is so wet, and rocky in the Arrowhead, there is always a few patches of trees left standing in a clearcut. Places that are hard for the machines to get to.

 

I would agree that a 75% cut of Oak down at Whitewater would not be a good idea. That's too much for a relatively slow-growing species.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
caleb
14 hours ago, Dave Quindt said:

 

And I've got to ask, why does the mature popple get to go and the mature oaks get to stay?  Or said more accurately, why does the young popple forest get to thrive at the expense of the young oak forest? My guess is that MN has an abundance of young popple stands and relatively little young oak stands. 

 

Yes, and they're not exactly the same range.  Oaks grow most heavily in the south and west of Minnesota.  The main popple range is from central Minnesota up to the northeast.  Popple stands tend to age into maples, ash, and some red and white pine.  It's not the norm for a popple stand in north central or northeastern Minnesota to age into oaks.

 

We do also have a whole lot more acres of popple/maple/ash/conifers than we do oaks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Swope

I can’t speak much about the SE hardwoods in MN. I wouldn’t go there to hunt upland game,  but the comparison between new growth oak and aspen doesn’t make sense to me. Aspen is first growth after a disturbance like fire or logging, oak is second or third. 
 

It appears to me the DNR is managing forest for deer more than anything where I hunt in East-central MN. Instead of clearing out the aged aspen, they’re leaving about 5-10% of it standing dotting a cut. That is no good for the grouse and woodcock. It just increases the mortality rate to owls and hawks.

 

I’m not a fan of the logging practice of leaving the slash where it hits the ground either.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Randy S

I hunted Whitewater for grouse a lot back in the '80's. Mostly when I didn't have time to knock on doors or only had a few hours. It was decent, but not nearly as productive as the local private timber. Kinda like Yellow River Forest in NE IA. Private land in that region was logged every 15-20 years depending on current value. In high value harvest the loggers took everything but cull trees down to 14" dia. When an owner was looking for a little income they took down to 16 or 18". They shipped a lot of R.R. ties out of that region. Tops were left lay and the results were excellent, no-cycle, grouse numbers. 

 

I'm no arborist but there are enough cull trees left, usually big old oaks, that they're not missed. Ground cover grew in as prickly ash, a few cedars, a half dozen species of thorny berry brambles and soon re-shaded by hickory and oaks. There are virtually no grouse at Whitewater today so to claim an adverse affect on wildlife that thrive in regenerative growth would be ridiculous. I haven't been there in years and it would take a massive logging and regrowth program before I'd ever waste time at Whitewater again. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Peent
On 11/11/2019 at 10:47 AM, Swope said:

I can’t speak much about the SE hardwoods in MN. I wouldn’t go there to hunt upland game,  but the comparison between new growth oak and aspen doesn’t make sense to me. Aspen is first growth after a disturbance like fire or logging, oak is second or third. 
 

It appears to me the DNR is managing forest for deer more than anything where I hunt in East-central MN. Instead of clearing out the aged aspen, they’re leaving about 5-10% of it standing dotting a cut. That is no good for the grouse and woodcock. It just increases the mortality rate to owls and hawks.

 

I’m not a fan of the logging practice of leaving the slash where it hits the ground either.

There is no evidence or any study that shows leaving scattered leave trees standing in an open aspen cut has any detrimental effect on grouse or woodcock.   It's some wives tale that someone conjured up and while it sounds good, sounds like it makes sense, the reality is that these species (grouse, woodcock, hawks, owls) have evolved together.  They know how to play the game.  There is much more benefit than harm by leaving some scattered larger trees standing in a cut.  As far as leaving the slash where it hits the ground, this is exactly where it needs to be left.  Dragging it up to a landing where it is delimbed, then drug back out across the site is almost as good.  Delimbing and leaving in a pile is just plain wrong.  The soils, the terrestrial creatures, everything needs that stuff on site and scattered.  

 

Also,  oak is an early successional species as is aspen.  Both species are replaced by more shade tolerant species as the stand declines and slowly dies.  The oak in SE MN is aging fast with little cutting happening.  If done properly oak can be regenerated.  If left alone the stand will become something else less desirable than oak in time.  Less desirable to grouse, deer, woodcock and most other wildlife.   And humans.    

 

I don't mean to beat you up or pick on you, it's just when I read something that is so wrong I feel the need to say something.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sharptail grouse
1 hour ago, Peent said:

There is no evidence or any study that shows leaving scattered leave trees standing in an open aspen cut has any detrimental effect on grouse or woodcock.   It's some wives tale that someone conjured up and while it sounds good, sounds like it makes sense, the reality is that these species (grouse, woodcock, hawks, owls) have evolved together.  They know how to play the game.  There is much more benefit than harm by leaving some scattered larger trees standing in a cut.  As far as leaving the slash where it hits the ground, this is exactly where it needs to be left.  Dragging it up to a landing where it is delimbed, then drug back out across the site is almost as good.  Delimbing and leaving in a pile is just plain wrong.  The soils, the terrestrial creatures, everything needs that stuff on site and scattered.  

 

Also,  oak is an early successional species as is aspen.  Both species are replaced by more shade tolerant species as the stand declines and slowly dies.  The oak in SE MN is aging fast with little cutting happening.  If done properly oak can be regenerated.  If left alone the stand will become something else less desirable than oak in time.  Less desirable to grouse, deer, woodcock and most other wildlife.   And humans.    

 

I don't mean to beat you up or pick on you, it's just when I read something that is so wrong I feel the need to say something.  

Maybe they are finally trying to manage for overall health as opposed to just managing for upland birds. Its easy for any of us to get myopic sometimes

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
co_setter
3 hours ago, Peent said:

There is much more benefit than harm by leaving some scattered larger trees standing in a cut.

If you don't mind, what are those benefits?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×