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Many of Minnesota’s 90 Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) have active forestry/tree programs to help private landowners manage their resources wisely. The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources helps support these programs by offering training, information, and technical assistance of forestry and agroforestry issues. BWSR also coordinates local programs to ensure an organized statewide effort and works to integrate private forest management / agroforestry programs and activities of other agencies into local SWCD efforts.

Forest Stewardship Program 

The Forest Stewardship Program is a United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service program administered by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry. The program offers technical and financial assistance to private forest landowners. The DNR works with partners (both private consultants and local and other government units) to provide these services to private forest landowners. SWCDs have been active partners since 1990. Many SWCDs offer technical assistance to private forest landowners: Clean Water Conservation on Minnesota Forestland (Issue Paper produced by SWCD and BWSR staff).

The funding cycle for the technical assistance portion of this program usually calls for proposals at the end of December/mid-January. The proposals are to be submitted by mid-April to early May. The proposals are acted on by the state Forest Stewardship Committee and approved by the DNR State Forester for start of work usually by July 1. This cycle may change from time to time. 

Forestry in Minnesota

Minnesota’s 14.4 million acres of forestland makes up 27 percent of the land use in Minnesota (source: Land Management Information Center). Minnesota’s forests are used for timber production, recreation, wildlife habitat, and increasingly, for home sites. The value of forest products has increased from $3.8 billion in 1985 to $8.2 billion dollars in 2000 (source: Minnesota Forest Industries). Forest products companies are the third-largest manufacturing employer in the state. The industry employs around 60,000 people.

In Minnesota, ownership of the 14.8 million acres of timberland is divided. County/municipal, state, and federal levels each own between 17-21 percent, with forest industries at 5 percent. The largest single block is private ownership, with a base of 40 percent or approximately 6 million acres. A recent USDA survey shows considerable fragmentation into small holdings. Ownership of less than 20 acres is the fastest growing category. According to a recent USDA Forest Service forest inventory analysis, there are more than 125,000 landowners in the 0-20 acre category. Many of these smaller parcels are in sensitive areas adjacent to lakes, streams, and rivers.

It is expected that the cost and value of wood products will continue to increase, along with the increasing fragmentation of smaller holdings of timberland. This makes management of these lands even more critical.

Many of these small tract owners are not interested or able to manage their property for timber/fiber production. They are far more interested in other recreational uses of their property, as information from the Nonindustrial Private Forest Landowner has shown.

For more information on the Board of Water and Soil Resources forestry assistance program, contact Dan Steward, (218) 203-4474, or

Forestry Links

Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources

520 Lafayette Road North, St. Paul, MN 55155 | (651) 296-3767 | Fax (651) 297-5615 | TTY (800) 627-3529

An Equal Opportunity Employer

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