Forest management is all the things you do to keep your woods healthy and beautiful. This work tends to happen in small steps over multiple years. For example, if you want to improve wildlife habitat you may need to remove invasive plants to allow native plants to grow, and then plant the right trees to increase food for wildlife. Or, if you have branches dying on your apple tree in the yard due to fire blight, you may have to prune out the infected branches to slow the spread.
The Itasca County Soil and Water Forester can help with citizen questions about:
- Urban Forestry
- Sustainable forest management
- Habitat Improvement
- Native Vegetation
- Tree Health
- What is wrong with my plant?
A Woodland Stewardship Plan helps you understand what is in your woods, how to improve them, and when to do work. A unique plan is developed for your woods based on your land management goals. The plan can help you stay on track over the long-term and keep your woods healthy and beautiful. Plans are written for woodland owners with 20 to 5,000 acres where at least 10 acres have or will have trees. Plans are updated every 10 years to stay current with your needs and your woods.
Plans are developed and written by foresters trained in woodland stewardship from the DNR, environmental organizations, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and consulting foresters. The cost for a Woodland Stewardship Plan depends on who writes it and the size of your woods.
While the Itasca County Soil and Water can write your plan, you can also hire another stewardship forester to do the work. Check out the interactive map of approved Minnesota Woodland Stewardship Plan writers on the U of M Extension's webpage.
Financial Benefits of a Woodland Stewardship Plan
A Woodland Stewardship Plan registered with the DNR qualify you for woodland tax and financial incentive programs.
Cost-share Program: The Itasca County Soil and Water has cost-share funds available to help woodland owners complete projects to improve your woods (these are the steps outlined in your Woodland Stewardship Plan). A forester works with you to develop a project plan. Project work can be done by you or a contractor. Sample projects include: wildlife and pollinator habitat improvement, tree planting, bud capping, invasive species removal, tree thinning, and forest road work.
Incentive Programs: The Minnesota Sustainable Forest Incentive Act (SFIA) jointly managed by Minnesota Department of Revenue and DNR is an incentive program to keep forests as forests on our landscape. Landowners with at least 20 acres of forest land under a registered Woodland Stewardship Plan may be eligible.
Minnesota offers a reduced property tax rate called 2c Managed Forest Land. Woodland owners who actively follow their registered Woodland Stewardship Plan may be eligible for a reduced property tax rate of .65 percent.
Conservation easements are a critical component of the state’s efforts to improve water quality by reducing soil erosion, phosphorus and nitrogen loading, and improving wildlife habitat and flood attenuation on private lands. Easements protect the state’s water and soil resources by permanently restoring wetlands, adjacent native grassland wildlife habitat complexes and permanent riparian buffers. Conservation easements also keep lands in private ownership and on the tax rolls.
The Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) easement program is authorized in Minnesota Statute, and the Statute (103F.511) provides a definition of “riparian land” that applies to RIM easements. Under this definition, “riparian land” defines lands adjacent to public waters, drainage systems, wetlands or locally designated priority waters. There are approximately 520 acres in Itasca County enrolled in BWSR’s RIM programs. Funding for the RIM Conservation Easement Program is provided through the Outdoor Heritage Fund.
The Mississippi river and its connecting tributaries and headwaters lakes are essential to wildlife, bird, and waterfowl transportation and sustainability. The Mississippi Headwaters Board will work with the Trust for Public Land to protect the priority lands using fee title acquisitions; and the Itasca County Soil and Water Conservation Districts to implement the Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) program through the Board of Water and Soil Resources to gain permanent conservation easements. These actions will protect against fragmentation of forest land, and provide access to existing public land.
To see if your land is eligible for the BWSR RIM program or the Mississippi Headwaters Habitat Corridor Easement program contact our staff.
Austin Steere, Projects Coordinator