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DNR seeks comments on sustainable timber harvest analysis

Dec 29, 2017 07:11AM ● Published by Editor

By Brian Larsen of The Cook County News Herald - Friday, December 29, 2017DNR 

Time is running out for the public to comment on the Sustainable Timber Harvest Analysis issued by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) December 1, 2017. Folks have until January 8 to get their comments to the state. 

Last year Gov. Mark Dayton instructed the DNR to increase annual timber sales from roughly 800,000 to 900,000 cords, with an eye towards boosting yearly stumpage sales to one million cords.

The governor asked for an analysis of the long-term sustainability of cutting one million cords of wood, and he also directed the DNR to hire an independent forest modeler to help with that determination.

Fulfilling the governor’s request, the DNR hired Mason, Bruce & Girard of Portland, Oregon to perform an independent, third-party analysis of the proposed DNR timber harvest.

As part of the process, the governor convened a stakeholder group of timber producers and non-timber producers to study the feasibility of making a 25 percent increase in the harvest of the state-managed forest.

The governor also asked the DNR to move faster on its outreach to private landholders and, “engage other land managers in supporting and encouraging their efforts to offer more wood,” using the U.S. Forest Service’s Good Neighbor Authority.

“It’s a vital part of our economy, but it’s also the driver for the harvest that allows us to manage our forests for their habitat, recreational, and environmental benefits as well,” Dayton said at the time of his request.

The first phase of the project focused on gathering information and developing initial models. Currently, the project has gone into a time of more extensive modeling and analysis.

The analysis will examine the sustainability of harvesting one million cords of timber per year from DNR-administered forest lands. If the report doesn’t support the governor’s request, less wood will be cut and sold annually. 

For the past decade, the DNR sold about 800,000 cords of timber. These sales were based on current inventories of wood and best forest practices. Every 10 years the DNR re-evaluates sustainable timber harvests for DNR managed lands.

As in previous reviews, this study is more than a summary of how many cords of wood should be cut on an annual basis. Included in the findings will be a close look at environmental factors, which provides among other things, effects on wildlife habitat, water quality, and invasive species.

Public comments can be emailed to stha.dnr@ state.mn.us or by sending written comments to Sustainable Timber Harvest Analysis, Minnesota DNR, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155. 

Senator Klobuchar

In other timber-related news, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar cosponsored the bipartisan Good Neighbor Authority Improvement Act to amend the 2014 Farm Bill to allow the Forest Service’s Good Neighbor Authority (GNA) to cover forest management efforts that require road repair, improve forest access, and complete stalled Forest Service projects.

Say that three times fast.

The Good Neighbor Authority Improvement Act proactively addresses the need to conduct road repairs to complete Forest Service projects in the next few years. This modification also supports ecosystem goals by improving forest health, restoring wildlife and fish habitat, and improving water quality. The legislation was introduced by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and is also cosponsored by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI).

“Minnesota’s forests don’t just provide recreational opportunities and environmental benefits. They can also sustain rural economies,” said Klobuchar. “This bipartisan bill will continue to encourage collaboration between the U.S. Forest Service and state agencies to undertake forest management projects, which will help protect water resources, enhance wildlife habitat, restore forest health, and strengthen our local economies.”

The Federal Forest Resource Coalition, Forest Resources Association, National Association of State Foresters, Hardwood Federation, Boone and Crockett Club, and the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association support the Good Neighbor Authority Improvement Act.

Klobuchar has asked the U.S. Forest Service to implement “Good Neighbor Authority quickly” and to use the authority to facilitate approved timber sales that may not be feasible with the agency’s current resources and staffing levels.

The forest products industry and related sectors have grown to support 40,000 jobs in Minnesota and directly contribute $9.7 billion in economic output.

In a letter to the supervisor of the Superior National Forest, Klobuchar urged forward movement on Good Neighbor Authority projects so the benefits to forest products, mills, and forest economies can be fully realized. She also pushed the Superior and Chippewa National Forests to do more to deliver on the promises of multiple uses by meeting restoration objectives and providing more fiber to forest products mills in northern Minnesota. 

Hedstrom goes to Washington

Wayne Brandt, executive vice president of the Timber Producers Association, reports that he was in Washington, D.C. last month with Howard Hedstrom, who is president of Hedstrom Lumber Company, to meet with new USFS Chief Tony Tooke and deputy chief of the national forest system Chris French. 

Brandt said both leaders were a “breath of fresh air.”

“Their focus is on getting work done on our national forests. They have a plan for doing this. They have interim and accountability steps to make the plan happen,” Brandt stated in his November/December Timber Producers column that he writes for the magazine.

From 2012 to 2013 Howard was president of the Federal Forest Resource Coalition (FFRC), which is based in Washington, D.C. and represents 650 companies in almost 30 states. The FFRC covers issues involving budget and policy that have to do with the timber industry.

Howard has spent many years working with legislators both locally and nationally on behalf of the timber industry to promote sustainable forest practices that protect both the environment and the jobs created within the industry. He and Wayne Brandt work tirelessly on behalf of the lumber industry and are excellent representatives for our area on all things related to timber management.

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