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The White Pine Society

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White Pine Society Management Plan

A proposal for managing white pines on Minnesota state-administrated lands.

Part A
Develop a sustainable harvest plan for each ecological subsection, taking into account ecological and aesthetic values and long-term timber values. Within each ecological subsection, make no new sales of white pines on state-administered land until such a plan is developed. Existing contracts can run as long as 10 years, so loggers can continue cutting under old contracts while the DNR develops sustainable harvest plans for each ecological subsection. Some subsections in north central Minnesota show reasonable white pine regeneration, so sustainable harvest plans might be developed most easily for those subsections to enable harvest to continue on a sustainable basis. It is necessary to manage by ecological subsection because regeneration problems and past reduction in acreage differ from subsection to subsection. This will also assure a broad distribution of white pines and prevent management in which white pines are depleted in one subsection and regenerated in another, which does nothing to benefit the depleted subsection. To address ecological and aesthetic values, the plan for each ecological subsection must include the following:


Within each ecological subsection, exempt from harvest all white pines older than 120 years old. These total less than 3,000 acres on state and federal timberland and less than 3,800 acres in reserve areas such as Itasca State Park and the BWCAW. The subtotal for state-administered land is somewhat less. These forest stands and scattered trees will become the true old-growth forests (250-400 years old) with fully grown trees like our forefathers saw (3-6 feet in diameter, and sometimes over 150 feet tall). These trees will provide the long-lasting snags (that often last a half century) and large-diameter logs (that last up to two centuries) that are lacking in our forests today and that have many ecological values.


Within each ecological subsection, exempt from harvest future old growth white pines 60-120 years old in an amount that will assure an age distribution to replenish old growth white pine forests and scattered white pines in perpetuity. Very little white pine remains as old growth. To preserve forest diversity, we must prevent that from declining more. Both white pine forest acreage and large scattered old white pine trees are important to wildlife in different ways.


In the ecological subsections where the work group identified white pines as being most severely depleted, i.e, in the Mille Lacs Uplands, Anoka Sand Plain, St Croix Moraines and Outwash Plains, North Shore, Glacial Lake Superior Plain, St Louis Moraines, and Laurentian Highlands ecological subsections, exempt white pines from harvest in future timber sales on state-administered land (except limited experimental harvest-see below) and focus regeneration efforts on these subsections until the number of white pines over 60 years old has quadrupled. These subsections currently produce little white pine timber but were formerly among Minnesota's most productive white pine areas. These subsections include approximately 30 percent of Minnesota's former white pine range in east central Minnesota and along the North Shore.


In the ecological subsections where the work group identified white pine regeneration as being especially difficult to regenerate due to blister rust, poor seedbed, deer browsing, or competition from hardwoods and balsam fir, exempt white pines from harvest in future timber sales on state-administered land, except limited experimental harvest, until experimental regeneration efforts are shown to be consistently and predictably successful. These subsections include the North Shore, Nashwauk Uplands, and Border Lakes ecological subsections. These subsections currently produce little white pine timber because they include the depleted North Shore subsection and the reserved BWCA. The Nashwauk Uplands have some of our most extensive stands of white pines that remain. However, foresters have had limited regeneration experience and have had only inconsistent success in regenerating white pines in these subsections, so harvest on state-administered lands within those subsections should be limited to experimental harvest of up to three percent of the white pines to determine regeneration strategies that provide the highest 20-year survival. Determining the factors that influence success is necessary to predicting sustainable harvest levels and developing optimal management strategies for white pine in those subsections.


Upon satisfaction of the above, restrict future white pine sales on state-administered land within each ecological subsection to thinnings, selective harvest, and shelterwood harvests under the DNR's Extended Rotation Forest Guidelines with followup silviculture and monitoring to assure that there is adequate regeneration and no net loss of acreage that is fully stocked with white pines 60-180 years old and older. Loss of acreage will trigger a halt of future sales of white pines within that ecological subsection until the acreage is restored.

Part B
White pines that occur as scattered individuals or in small groups must not be harvested from public land. Scattered individuals or members of small groups that are damaged from natural causes will be retained for their ecological values. The better producing seed trees will be the focus of regeneration efforts that include creating a suitable seedbed in the area of seedfall and nurturing seedlings by pruning rust-infected branches, bud-capping terminal leaders in fall to prevent deer-browse damage, and releasing them from hardwood competition at the proper time.

Part C
Trees that pose a safety hazard to the public may be harvested.

Part D
Develop procedures for notifying the public of proposed timber sales on state-administered lands and allowing public comment and appeals as is law on federally administered land. The recent reduction in Minnesota's white pine resource and the near elimination of the huge white pines people enjoy are partly due to the fact that there is little public knowledge of forestry activities and little opportunity for public involvement prior to timber sales on state-administered land. The weak limitations on cutting recommended by this work group show that industry and forestry professionals cannot effectively manage a public resource over which some members have a conflict of interest. Public forests belong to all Minnesotans, and more open procedures are needed to keep the public better informed and more involved.