Forestry Best Management Practices for Clean Water

2014 Fiscal Year Funding Amount:
Clean Water Fund
In Progress
Start Date: 
July 2013
End Date: 
June 2015
Activity Type: 
Technical Assistance, Research
Counties Affected: 
Aitkin, Anoka, Becker, Beltrami, Benton, Cass, Clearwater, Cook, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Isanti, Itasca, Kanabec, Lake, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Sherburne, St. Louis
Project Details:
2014 Fiscal Year
Legal Citation / Subdivision: 
M.L. 2013, Ch. 137, Art. 2, Sec. 6(g)
Appropriation Language 
$675,000 the first year and $675,000 the second year are for applied research and tools, including watershed hydrologic modeling; maintaining and updating spatial data for watershed boundaries, streams, and water bodies and integrating high-resolution digital elevation data; assessing effectiveness of forestry best management practices for water quality; and developing an ecological monitoring database.
Fiscal Year Funding Amount: 
Number of full time equivalents funded: 
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s) 
In FY 14, DNR will monitor the implementation of sustainable forest management guidelines and water quality BMPs on 80 – 100 timber harvest sites across 4 forested watersheds. Distribution of timber harvest and other forest changes will also be identified in these watersheds. The combined information along with specific watershed characteristics will be used to identify water quality risk factors within target watersheds and strategies to reduce those risks. Outreach programs will then be developed to work with forest landowners, managers and loggers to implement strategies.

Specific outcomes include:
- Establishment of a protocol for identifying forest change at the watershed level that can also be applied statewide.
- Identify the distribution of timber harvest and forest change in four watersheds including Mississippi Headwaters, Rum river, North Lake Superior and South Lake Superior.
- Monitor the implementation of forest management guidelines and water quality BMPs through on-site investigation on a total of 80-100 sites across these 4 watersheds.
- Progress in development of a protocol for identifying level of risk to water quality due to timber harvesting frequency and distribution, level of BMP implementation, and additional watershed characteristics
- Outreach programs based on above data will be developed in FY15.

Project Overview

Minnesota DNR and Minnesota Forest Resources Council work with forest landowners, managers and loggers to implement a set of voluntary sustainable forest management guidelines that include water quality best management practices (BMPs) to ensure sustainable habitat, clean water, and productive forest soils, all contributing to healthy watersheds. This project will monitor the implementation of these forest management guidelines and BMPs on forested watersheds in MN. Additionally, this project will identify timber harvest frequency and distribution as well as significant change to forest area including conversion of forests to other land uses, large fires, and blowdown events. An evaluation of the guideline implementation rates, watershed characteristics, and the frequency and distribution of forest change will be used to identify risks to water quality as well as strategies to reduce these risks, with the goal of maintaining high quality forested watersheds in MN. Outreach programs will be developed for forest landowners, managers and loggers throughout the target watersheds aimed at mitigating these risks such as improved implementation of specific BMPs.

About the Issue

Forested watersheds in MN generally produce an abundance of high quality water. Much of our forested landscape is managed as productive forest land providing timber products as well recreational opportunities and abundant wildlife. Sustainable timber harvesting in combination with application of voluntary water quality BMP’s has helped to maintain water quality in Minnesota’s managed forest lands. However, risks to water quality in these landscapes still remain, with rates of BMP implementation, harvesting patterns, and watershed characteristics influencing the potential for impacts to occur at any given time or place. Also, recent trends in forestland development and loss in Minnesota has increased the risk of impacts to water quality in forested landscapes. Evaluation of BMP implementation and quantification of risk factors by watershed, combined with effective outreach programs, will allow for continued utilization of working forests while maintaining functioning, healthy watersheds that produce clean water.

Project Manager

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
3296 State Park Road NE