Minnesota Forests for the Future, Phase 3
This Minnesota Forests for the Future project protected 19,439 acres of forest and forested wetlands with perpetual working forest conservation easements in Lake, Itasca and Koochiching Counties ensuring public access, management access and sustainably managed forests.
Accomplishment Plan: http://www.lsohc.leg.mn/FY2012/accomp_plan/3a.pdf
Forest land ownerships changes within recent years, primarily within the industrial forest ownerships, are occurring as the timber industry restructures and looks to obtain value from their land through real estate sales and recreational leases. These sales can result in forest fragmentation or even outright conversion of forest lands, impact public recreational access including recreational trail routes, affect forest management access by public agencies across the impacted lands, degrade wildlife habitat, and decrease the use of sustainable forestry practices.
The current proposal included 3 project opportunities located across the Northern Forest Section on industrial forest ownerships that have active recreational lease and/or land sales programs. The projects included a 10,581 acre permanent working forest conservation easement in Lake County, a 1,892 acre permanent working forest conservation easement in Itasca County and a 6,966 acre permanent working forest conservation easement in Koochiching County.
LSOHC appropriations will target priority projects as determined by the scoring criteria developed in consultation with the Minnesota Forests for the Future Advisory Committee (stakeholder group). Projects may need to be scaled back or phased to accommodate the available funding. Each of the 3 projects included in this proposal were located within program priority areas as identified by a GIS model that integrates recreational, ecological and economic data.
These projects addressed forest fragmentation, habitat degradation, recreational and management access, and sustainable forestry through perpetual conservation easements and fee acquisition that will protect the forest and wetland habitats in perpetuity, restrict forest parcelization and development, provide for public recreational access and public management access, and promote sustainable forest management practices.
The Minnesota Forests for the Future and Federal Forest Legacy Programs have proven to be cost effective programs for protecting private forest land habitat in Minnesota, while also providing public recreational and agency management access and ensuring sustainable forestry. These programs have protected over 358,000 acres to date at an average cost of less than $300/acre. Over $24 million in non-state funds have been leveraged for these protection efforts over the past 10 years.