Approximately 1.5 million acres of school trust lands are considered commercial forest lands. The DNR’s Division of Forestry is responsible for the administrative duties of managing these productive timber lands including forest modeling, timber inventory, appraisals and sales, reforestation, and collecting and accounting of revenues. School trust timber sales account for approximately 46 percent of all DNR timber revenues annually. Forestry activities generated $3.7 million for the Permanent School Fund in FY18.
In Minnesota, the predominant economic species for timber harvest are aspen, balsam fir, black spruce, white spruce, pine (jack, white, and red) and northern hardwoods. DNR Forestry offers a steady supply of timber from school trust lands to manage the health of these lands, provide a consistent revenue stream for the trust, and to help ensure the viability of Minnesota’s forest products industry, thereby protecting the long-term value of the trust’s timber resources as well as providing a backdrop for outdoor recreation and tourism.
DNR Forestry meets these long-term sustainable harvest goals by implementing best management practices established by the Minnesota Forest Resources Council . MFRC's Site Level Guidelines consider the economic, social, and ecological values of forest resources, and focus on mitigating the effects of timber management on wildlife habitat, riparian areas, and soil and water resources. They cover a variety of management practices that address topics such as provision of coarse woody debris, removal of woody biomass, and retention of leave trees, riparian zones, seasonal ponds, and rare species and rare communities.
Additionally, DNR Forestry has adopted forest certification under standards from the Forest Stewardship Council
(FSC) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative
(SFI) for all the forests that DNR manages, including school trust lands. FSC and SFI define standards for sustainable and responsible forestry management and then accredit independent, third-party auditors who assess forest lands to ensure conformance with the standards. This formal certification ensures that forestry activities are conducted in a manner that maintains the forest's biodiversity, productivity, and ecological processes, and that forest practices meet high standards of ecological, social, and economic sustainability.