Accelerated Forest Habitat Enhancement, Phase 2
This program of on-the-ground conservation projects increased the wildlife and ecological values of forest communities on Minnesota's public forestlands. Restoration and enhancement projects in this program enhanced more than 10,000 acres of forest.
The projects in this program were designed to address the following management objectives:
1. Enhance forest communities by altering the plant species composition and/or structure. These projects were accomplished by, for example, conducting hand release to enhance the growth of Northern red oak saplings and trees to increase mast available for wildlife, and meet the Forest Planning goal to FRMP goal of "improving the regeneration and increasing the presence of oak and pine across the landscape."
2. Enhance brushland habitat by altering the plant species structure and/or composition. Shearing projects were performed on lowland brush to set back succession in mature willow stands to improve cover and forage for deer and moose, and to enhance nesting and brood rearing habitat for a variety of game and non-game brushland dependent avian species. Perpetuation of the brushland component of the Aspen Parklands landscape helped to predispose these stands to future management with prescribed fire.
This program worked to enhance oak regeneration and create a mix of young hardwood forest with more open meadow/brush lands to benefit grouse, elk, and deer. Enhancement of conifer stands and mixed hardwood/conifer forests provided habitat for fisher and marten, and thermal cover for deer and moose. Shearing of trees and brush in large open landscape priority areas enhanced habitat for sharp-tailed grouse. Shearing and mowing of hardwoods and brush in smaller patches enhanced habitat for woodcock and deer.
The program also enhanced habitat for a number of nongame species, including yellow rails, sandhill cranes, northern harriers, bobolinks, and sandpipers. Activities that created/enhanced forest openings provided habitat for nongame species, including least chipmunks, northern flickers, coopers hawks, and song sparrows. Some of the less intensive timber management in our program helped protect rare native plant communities and a number of nongame species through retention and enhancement of plant species diversity and structure.