Department of Forest Resources Staff Paper Series

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The Department of Forest Resources Staff Paper Series is an internal publication, many are refined later as journal articles or other forms of publication. For this reason, and due to publication costs, we do not maintain a mailing list nor do we have an excess supply. The University of Minnesota Natural Resources Library does maintain a complete file.
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Now showing 1 - 20 of 261
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    Status of the Minnesota Logging Sector in 2021
    (University of Minnesota, 2023-09) Blinn, Charles R.; Nolle, David A.
    Logging businesses in Minnesota have been surveyed intermittently since the late 1970s to assess their status and health. A mail survey was conducted in spring 2022 to assess the status of Minnesota’s logging sector during 2021. The survey was a follow up to previous surveys, the most recent of which were conducted in 2016 and 2011. A total of 162 usable responses were received (50.5% usable response rate). Many of the reported findings from the two prior surveys were repeated in this survey. For example, businesses and equipment continue to age. The average amount of capital invested in a business is under $500,000. County forests, private woodlands, and the State of Minnesota were the most important sources of stumpage. Winter harvesting produces about half (53%) of the total annual volume harvested. Feller-bunchers and grapple skidders were the most common in-woods equipment. While there are many small volume logging businesses in Minnesota, collectively they produce a small percentage of the total annual harvest. Most harvest sites were within 60 miles of the business’ location. Minnesota’s logging businesses faced new challenges in 2021 with the Covid-19 pandemic, mill closures and a shortage of truck drivers. Higher volume logging businesses tended to be more negatively impacted by each of those three challenges. While many businesses were impacted, approximately 81% reported that their business at least broke-even in 2021. The most commonly cited concerns were the lack/loss of markets, difficulty in securing labor, rising costs for everything (e.g., stumpage, equipment, parts, fuel, labor), delivered prices which were relatively flat, regulations which hurt the industry, and displeasure that mills increased their competition for stumpage at auctions as that took away potential timber sales from small businesses.
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    On-water Observational Research at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore: Report for the USDOI National Park Service
    (University of Minnesota Department of Forest Resources, 2023-01) Schneider, Ingrid E.; Ikuta, Quentin; Tsakakis, Elena
    The purpose of this project was to inform unit leadership and visitor use management at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (PIRO) regarding boat behaviors and density at areas between Miners and Chapel Beaches. Specific and important topics of interest related to: 1. Proportion of non-commercial boats 2. Types of boats and use patterns by time of day 3. Issues related to boat interaction or operator behaviors (distancing, intersecting boats, noise, and ‘Other’). During peak season summer 2022, paid, trained observers recorded the number and type of visible boats at one time (BAOT) as well as select behaviors, simultaneously taking photo records of on-water density. Systematic observation occurred across 16 days during July through August, 2022. Observation occurred between 10 am and 6 pm, typically for 4 to 8 hours, and across the week to capture a diversity of uses and boat densities within the typical boating hours. Locations observed included: • Miners Beach (MBMCC = Miners Beach to Miners Castle, Cliff View; MCGIC=Miners Castle to Grand Island Cliff View; MBMCG = Miners Beach to Miners Castle, Ground view; MCGIG = Miners Castle to Grand Island, Ground view) • Mosquito Beach (MQ Beach) • Chapel Beach (Chpl Beach) More than 1,500 observations were recorded.
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    An Assessment of the Safety and Efficiency of Log Trucks with Increased Weight Limits on Interstate Highways in Minnesota and Wisconsin
    (University of Minnesota, 2023) Carson, Michael T.; Blinn, Charles R.; Timothy, J. O'Hara
    Design standards for the Interstate Highway System in the US are generally higher than those on other roads within most states, making it the safest road system in the US. Federal law prevents states from enforcing vehicle weight limits on interstate highways that deviate from established Federal weight limits or state-specific grandfathered weight limits or exceptions. While state gross vehicle weight (GVW) limits for trucks that haul logs exceed federal interstate highway limits in all major timber-producing states that don’t have grandfathered limits, state-legal weight log trucks are not allowed to travel fully loaded on the interstate Trucks hauling logs at legal state limits must travel on state, county, township and local roads. On these routes trucks pass through towns/cities, school zones and encounter on-coming traffic and intersections. All these encounters increase the risk of an accident. This study compared the relative importance of the transport of raw forest products by trucks to the top five non-timber commodities and the fatality rates of log trucks to other heavy trucks in the lower 48 states, compared available national road damage cost estimates for interstate and non-interstate roads and assessed the impact of relaxing interstate weight limits on hauling distance, travel time, safety, pavement damage and CO2 emissions for hauling timber along three travel corridors in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Logs are an important commodity in many states but generally represent a minor percentage of the tonnage of commodities hauled by trucks. On a per load basis, log trucks have a lower fatality rate than other heavy trucks in 83% of the lower 48 states, including in those states that have higher GVW allowances on the interstate due to grandfathering. Due to the higher design standards, pavement damage costs are lowest on interstate highways as compared to other road types. Allowing state-legal, loaded log trucks access to federal interstate highways would improve the overall safety and efficiency of timber transportation while reducing pavement damage costs and CO2 emissions along the three travel corridors. The safety benefits generally exceeded the efficiency gains. Overall, study findings suggest that allowing state-legal, loaded log trucks to operate on interstate highways would improve the safety and efficiency of timber transportation in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
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    Who Wants To Be A Woodland Steward? Understanding Barriers to Forestland Stewardship in Minnesota
    (University of Minnesota Department of Forest Resources, 2022-06) O'Connor, Molly C.; Russell, Matthew B.; Gupta, Angela S.; Blinn, Charles R.
    A third of the nation’s forestland is owned and stewarded by family forest owners (Butler et al. 2021). These private landowners (woodland stewards) value them primarily due to the beauty, natural values, and wildlife habitat they provide. In Minnesota, 102,000 woodland stewards own and manage over five million acres of forestland in the state (USDA Forest Service, 2021). While private forestland in Minnesota is diverse in terms of the composition and characteristics of the forest, the demographics of woodland stewards are not. The objectives of this project were to (1) interview Minnesota residents that have been historically excluded from owning forestland within the State to understand their motivations and barriers to stewarding, purchasing, owning, and managing land and (2) build Extension’s repertoire of woodland steward resources that are more culturally-relevant.
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    Utilization of Fire-Impacted Timber: A Summary of a Survey of Mill Procurement Personnel and a Review of the Literature
    (University of Minnesota, 2022-05) Harberts, Isaac C.; Blinn, Charles R.; Gill, Kyle G.; Johnson, Lane B.
    Wildfire is an important ecological process and prescribed fire is a critical tool for the stewardship of fire-dependent forest lands. Continued interest in the use of prescribed fire as part of various silvicultural systems raises the question: How does fire-impacted timber influence timber utilization by mills? To help answer that question, a survey of mill procurement staff in the Lake States (Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin) and the southeastern US and a literature review were conducted. When it comes to utilizing fire-impacted timber, the "answer" is situation dependent on what the mill produces and their outlets for residual products. Charred wood and bark negatively impact the quality of products manufactured from pulpwood (e.g., paper, fluff pulp, cardboard) as small discolored flecks can appear in the final product. Utilization by mills which produce dimensional lumber generally isn’t a concern as the charred material can be removed by the debarking and slabbing processes. However, char-damaged wood fibers can result in weaker strength solid wood products. When considering the use of prescribed fire in a timber stand, it is important to consider local markets and their procurement specifications for fire-impacted timber. Waiting several years after a prescribed fire before harvesting timber may increase its utilization.
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    Workforce Diversity in Federal Natural Resource Organizations
    (University of Minnesota, 2022-02) Mejicano, Elizabeth; Dockry, Michael J.; Kilgore, Michael A.
    Natural resource management in the United States has long suffered from a lack of workforce diversity, with women and minorities generally underrepresented in natural resource careers. Workforce diversity is particularly important for federal natural resource organizations given their importance as major environmental employers and policymakers as well as their legal obligation to ensure a representative federal workforce. This analysis examined workforce trends in gender (from 1998 to 2018) and race/ethnicity (from 2006 to 2018) for nine federal natural resource departments and agencies. Employee demographic data were examined intraorganizationally over time and inter-organizationally in comparison with the federal government overall and the civilian labor force. The results demonstrated that over the last two decades: (1) federal natural resource organizations experienced large losses of employees, in contrast to gains in the number of employees in the federal government overall and the civilian labor force; (2) the percentage of female and minority employees in federal natural resource organizations increased even as the number of employees decreased; (3) federal natural resource organizations had lower percentages of female and minority employees than the federal government overall and civilian labor force; and (4) gaps in female and minority employment between the federal natural resource organizations and the civilian labor force generally remained stable or grew larger over time. Overall, the results indicate that federal natural resource organizations have continued to experience remedial levels of workforce diversity compared to the federal government overall and the civilian labor force.
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    Observational Research for St Croix National Scenic Riverway
    (University of Minnesota, 2017-01) Schneider, Ingrid E.; Carlson, Stephen P.; Pflughoeft, Benjamin R.; O’Connor, Molly
    The purpose of this project was to inform unit leadership and visitor use management at St. Croix National Scenic Riverway (SACN), specifically at the Osceola, Earl Park, and Whispering Pines boat landings. Research questions related to 1) visitor use and proportion of non-commercial visitors at the landing, 2) use patterns by time of day, and 3) visitor behavior issues.
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    Observational Research for Miners Beach at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
    (University of Minnesota, 2016-12) Schneider, Ingrid E.; Pflughoeft, Benjamin R.
    The purpose of this project was to inform unit leadership and visitor use management at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (PIRO), specifically Miners Beach. Specific and important research questions related to 1) visitor use and proportion of non-commercial users on the beach, 2) use patterns by time of day, and 3) visitor behavior issues.
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    Interagency Information Cooperative Projects and Accomplishments 2019-2020
    (University of Minnesota, 2020-11) Edgar, Christopher B; Klockow, Paul A
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    Density & Depreciative Behavior: Assessing Select Namekagon River Segments of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway
    (University of Minnesota, 2020-02) Schneider, Ingrid E.; Tsakakis, Elena
    This report provides baseline data to inform visitor use management on portions of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway (SACN), which consists of the Namekagon and St. Croix Rivers. Visitor and vessel density, depreciative behaviors and Riverway conditions were of interest along three segments: Stinnett landing to North Springbrook landing, Big Bend landing to Earl Park landing, and Earl Park landing to Trego Town landing.
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    Identification of Annual Flood Durations Associated with Tree Species in the Upper Mississippi River System Floodplain, with Applications to Forest Restoration
    (University of Minnesota, 2020-05) Ingvalson, Derek S.; Windmuller-Campione, Marcella A.; Meier, Andrew R.
    The Upper Mississippi River System (UMRS) is a highly altered river complex in the Midwestern United States that has been managed to provide a unique balance of economic, recreational, and environmental benefits to society. Manipulation of the river’s flows to support this multipurpose system has resulted in dramatic changes to the structure and function of various aquatic and terrestrial habitats, including floodplain forests. There is increased interest in restoring floodplain forests in the UMRS; however, the silvics of individual species and dynamics of floodplain forest stands are only marginally understood. The purpose of this study was to i) identify growing season flood durations that are suitable for individual tree species in the UMRS and (ii) demonstrate how those results can be applied at the project scale for use in forest restoration and management. The 10th, 50th, and 90th percentile values of average annual growing season flood duration were identified for 17 UMRS tree species by integrating a spatially explicit forest inventory dataset from Mississippi River pools 3-10 with plot level elevation data and estimates of average annual growing season flood duration for the nearest river mile. This range was used to describe the ecological amplitude of each species related to hydrologic conditions, with annual days of inundation providing a measure of hydrologic variability. The results of this study demonstrate the varying flood tolerance of UMRS floodplain forest trees at the species level and can be used by river managers to aid in the development of planting plans and the design of habitat restoration and enhancement efforts.
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    Minnesota Loggers and Invasive Forest Plants: Attitudes, Behaviors and Concerns
    (University of Minnesota, 2019-09) Snyder, Stephanie A.; Blinn, Charles R.; Peterson, Rachel R.
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    Minnesota Forest Land Area Estimation Using National Forest Inventory Data
    (University of Minnesota, 2019-05) Edgar, Christopher; Carson, Michael; Young, John
    The United States conducts a national forest inventory (NFI) for the purpose of providing information on the forest resources of the nation. The United States Forest Service, through the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program, administers the NFI in cooperation with state forestry agencies. NFI data and information are used by states to support forest management and policy decision-making. Here we review the sample design and estimation procedures of the NFI, with special emphasis on those aspects related to forest land area. Using the 2017 inventory data for the state of Minnesota, we compute an estimate of 17.7 million acres of forest land with a sampling error of 0.52%. Our estimate matches that published by FIA. This report documents the process of obtaining and organizing the data and application of formulae to compute the estimate and associated estimate of sampling error. All data and calculations are assembled in an MS Excel worksheet as a resource for anyone seeking to develop a fuller understanding of this important data set and appropriate estimation procedures. We then extend the estimation to that of ash forest land area, information needed for assessment of potential impacts of the emerald ash borer. For 2017, we estimate that ash (black, green, and white) is a component (at least some live volume) on 4.33 million acres, is 25% or more live volume on 1.78 million acres, and is 50% or more of live volume on 1.10 million acres of forest land in the state.
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    Visitor Perceptions & Preferences at Osceola Landing, St. Croix National Scenic Riverway
    (University of Minnesota, 2019-04) Schneider, Ingrid E; Tsakakis, Elena
    Osceola Landing visitors along the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway evaluated select conditions and their experiences summer 2018. Specific questions of interest related to visitor experiences of social conditions and safety. This research follows 2017 observational research which summarized location-specific visitor use patterns, visitor behavior issues, and proportion of non-commercial visitors at three landings, including Osceola (Schneider, Carlson, Pflughoeft, & O’Connor, 2018).
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    Whole stand growth and yield models for major forest types in the Upper Great Lakes Region
    (University of Minnesota, 2019-10-24) Ek, Alan R.; Wilson, David C.
    A system of models for forest growth and yield estimation for sixteen forest types common to the Upper Great Lakes region is presented. The system is novel in its use of representatively sampled and remeasured forest inventory plot data for modeling growth, and in its explicit incorporation of regular and irregular mortality. Component projection models are explicitly formulated with reference to stand age, site index and relative density. Models for predicting number of trees, quadratic mean diameter, relative density, and basal area are linked to build an expectation for basal area development from fundamental tree-based observations and relationships. Further, system projections are produced in terms of the above variables, and for timber volumes, with options for estimating biomass and carbon. The system of models was developed from USDA Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Program data for Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. We designated this formulation the Great Lakes Forest Projection System (GLFPS). ... The GLFPS is intended for projecting future forest conditions including growth and yield on a local to region-wide basis assuming the kinds and levels of management and disturbance inherent in the data. User instructions, assumptions in usage, consistency of estimates, procedures for handling mixed species stands, and other considerations in modeling and applications are also discussed. The system is publicly available on-line in an Excel spreadsheet format. As such, it is highly customizable.
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    Status of Invasive Plants and Management Techniques in Minnesota: Results from a 2018 Survey
    (University of Minnesota, 2019-04) Reinhardt, Jason; Russell, Matthew B.; Lazarus, William; Chandler, Monika; Senay, Senait
    Invasive weeds are an ongoing concern in Minnesota. Despite broad interest in addressing invasive plant-related problems in the state, there are relatively few datasets regarding species-specific concerns, costs, and management efforts. In this study, we address this knowledge gap using a questionnaire-survey approach. We asked landowners, stakeholders, and land managers a series of questions regarding thirteen invasive weeds in Minnesota, including both buckthorn species (Rhamnus cathartica, Frangula alnus) and wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa). Respondents (249 total) shared their concerns, cost information, and information regarding recent and planned management efforts for these weeds. Frequently-cited concerns varied considerably by species and type of respondent, but broadly included the potential impacts of weeds on conservation and ecology, weed-related impacts on forest regeneration, and weed-related impacts on recreation. Reported costs and management approaches varied depending on respondent type (private landowner or public lands professional), with public land professionals generally more willing and able to implement more expensive management approaches (i.e., mechanical removal, controlled burn) than private landowners. The broad results and data from this survey may be of interest to a number of researchers and natural resource professionals, as it provides some foundational context for further analyses.
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    Current Status and Trends of Silvicultural and Forest Health Practices in Minnesota: A 2017 Assessment
    (University of Minnesota, 2019-04) Windmuller-Campione, Marcella A.; Russell, Matthew B.; Sagor, Eli S.; Rodman, Madison G.
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    Status of the Minnesota Logging Sector in 2016
    (University of Minnesota, 2019-02) Blinn, Charles R.; Snyder, Stephanie A.; Russell, Matthew B.; Peterson, Rachel R.