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CONSERVE KANABEC COUNTY, MINN.: Managed Forests Yield the Best Benefits

Conservation in your community

Shannon Rasinksi

June 26, 2013
Shannon Rasinski
district conservationist

Rasinski is a district conservationist with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. She works in the agency’s Mora, Minn. office.

Woodlot 1 photo


• Well-managed woodlots can potentially produce high quality lumber, firewood and valuable specialty forest products like maple syrup, ginseng and other medicinal plants, which are grown under shade.

• Pine straw may be another income-generating option from loblolly or longleaf pine plantations where there are markets.

Learn more about Working Trees.

A tract of forestland has great potential, but it must be managed well to harness its full benefits.

If your woodlands have grown unproductive or overcrowded, consider some simple management techniques like an occasional cutting or thinning to improve them.

Healthy forests are productive places. Wood can be sold to supplement income or provide a source of heat for a home or farm. Healthy forests also provide the ideal habitat for wildlife and reduce the hazards of wildfires.

Improvements to forests are easy – and the best part is, trees typically respond quickly to management techniques.

Thinning is often performed when a forest is overstocked with trees. Cutting the excess trees allows the remaining trees and understory plants to prosper from more sun, water and space. Depending on local markets and the size of the trees, it may be possible to remove and sell the thinned trees to offset the cost of the operation.

Harvest cuttings are  used to remove and market logs for profit. Depending on the type of forest you own and your objectives for it, you may want to consider periodic intermediate cuttings to remove some trees of marketable size.   Final harvest cutting occurs when the bulk of trees in a stand are removed and sold.

After cutting, make sure the land is replanted or has existing younger trees to continue the regeneration of the forest.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service helps private landowners make their forests healthier through conservation activities, often called small woodlot improvement.

In addition to these management techniques, NRCS helps landowners with other forest-related practices, such as using prescribed burning, installing fire lanes and establishing native grasses.

When land is managed well, it not only helps you, the landowner, but spurs other environmental benefits as well.