Since June of 2016, Friends of MN SNAs, as a member of the Sand Dunes State Forest Stakeholders Advisory Group, has been attending meetings regarding the Anoka Sand Plain Subsection Forest Resource Management Plan and its Appendix C: Operational Plan for Management of Sand Dunes State Forest. Minnesota DNR established this group and invited the Friends of MN SNAs to participate in response to legislation passed in 2015. This legislation (2016 Session Laws, Chapter 189, Article 3, Section 47) placed a temporary halt until July 1, 2017 to all forest management activities aimed at restoring oak savanna in the Sand Dunes State Forest. This includes management activities on the Uncas Dunes SNA.
The legislation requires a report to the legislature by January 15 of 2017 outlining how DNR will collaborate with local citizens and other stakeholders on making decisions that impact the landscape, including timber harvest and other forest management activities. The legislation was enacted after landowners adjacent to state forest land objected to harvesting of the pine plantations and the conversion of some of these areas to oak savanna. Without the active involvement of the Friends of MN SNAs there would be fewer advocates for continuing to harvest the pine in selected plantations that are scheduled for harvest with a goal to restore them to oak savanna.
Conversion of selected pine plantations in close proximity to existing rare species populations and existing oak savanna openings will enhance habitat for rare plant and animal species. Local opposition is focused primarily around aesthetics near private residences or a “not in my backyard” attitude. With our involvement, the goals of restoring portions of the forest to oak savanna and enhancing habitat for rare species remains a part of the plan, at this time.
Friends of MN SNAs will continue into 2017 in the collaborative effort to support MN DNR in putting into practice the existing Operational Plan for Management of Sand Dunes State Forest that retains and enhances opportunities for the expansion of oak savanna and rare species in the Sand Dunes State Forest.
Link to the Sand Dunes State Forest management plan.
This is a typical looking section of the low diversity pine plantations in SDSF which the DNR's management plan would remove gradually. (Photo credit Tim Johnson)
While this is a section of diverse fire managed oak savannah in the Uncas Dunes SNA typical of pre-european settlement era which the area of pine plantations will hopefully transition to under the DNR plan. (Photo credit Brett Whaley)
Summer bloom in oak savannah biome of Uncas Dunes SNA - (Photo credit Brett Whaley)