Forests of Northern Minnesota   

TOPIC: forests of northern MN

== 1 of 1 ==
Date: Fri, Jan 4 2008 7:08 pm
From: Lee Frelich


Just returned from Ely MN in the heart of northern Minnesota's boreal
forest, and a very busy and eventful day. It's always interesting to see
the vast evergreen forests of black spruce, white spruce, balsam fir, jack
pine and red pine dressed in 2 feet of fluffy snow with moose grazing on
saplings of their favorite tree species, mountain ash, mountain maple and
paper birch. It was also nice to see that Thursday's storm did very little
tree damage. An intense low pressure center passed through northern MN
yesterday, and just to its south across Lake Superior, from Duluth MN past
Isle Royale National Park and on to Pukaskwa National Park (about a 250
mile fetch), southwesterly winds howled at sustained speeds of 60 mph for
about 8 hours, leading to a 28 foot significant wave height at the
northeast end of Lake Superior. Apparently winds were only 30-40 mph over
the forest, but were greatly accelerated as they descended from the
Sawtooth Mountains and spilled out over the relatively warm waters of the
still unfrozen lake.

I had been invited to speak at the Northern Minnesota Climate Change Forum,
which drew a standing-room-only crowd at Vermilion Community College
Auditorium in Ely, and was seated on stage with Arctic explorer Will
Steger, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar. It
was surprising how much the governor and senator knew about forests and how
well they handled a wide variety of questions from the public and
reporters. Organizers of the Forum and the audience seemed pleased with
what I said, although as usual I disregarded everything I had prepared
ahead of time and made something up microseconds before it came out of my
mouth. Basically I said a warmer climate was allowing more storms, fires
and insects to create a high rate of change in the forest--don't forget
that although the world has seen only 1 degree F of warming, by virtue of
being at a relatively high latitude and the middle of the continent,
Minnesota has warmed by 3-5 degrees, so we are seeing effects that won't
show up in a lot of other places for a few more decades.


TOPIC: forests of northern MN

== 1 of 3 ==
Date: Wed, Jan 9 2008 4:55 pm


Speaking of moose presence: Has your department ever done a study on the
damage in future timber/biomass dollars, i.e., the projected losses, on
the average acre of mixed hardwoods or hardwoods with a presence of spruce
in Minnesota that has undergone years and years of injurious rubbings
(significant breaking into the cambial tissue whereby other maladies set
in...) by moose (and probably deer, too)? Just wondering how the folks in
MN handle such matters in terms of forecasting silvicultural activities
over the long-term while welcoming the presence of various critters. I
have a client with ~150 acres of mixed but mostly northern hardwood
forest. While it is a wonderful thing to know that a moose or several
moose frequent this property (bountiful droppings everywhere every year),
the damage to the pole-sized and small timber-sized components over the
past 5 to 10 years is extremely high... higher than I've seen elsewhere
over 32 years of fieldwork. Hundreds and hundreds of poles and small
timber stems that could otherwise be regarded as crop trees for the future
and left to grow for anywhere from 10 to 50 or more additional years are
now on their way out...


== 2 of 3 ==
Date: Wed, Jan 9 2008 5:02 pm

Michelle-We have similar issues with moose in Alaska...while it takes a lot of patience and a little bit of training, it turns out that moose are not as jug-headed as we've been led to believe...witness attached image!-Don

== 3 of 3 ==
Date: Thurs, Jan 10 2008 7:52 am
From: "Lee E. Frelich"


I have not seen any analyses of moose impact on timber. The studies that
have been done are mostly effects on succession in the forest in reserved
areas such as national parks.

I had a moose that liked one of my permanent mapped plots in the Boundary
Waters, and broke every single paper birch sapling, thus distorting the
successional pathway. On another nearby plot, they didn't break any of the
birch. Now the whole area burned in the Ham Lake Fire, and the moose will
have 75,000 acres of young birch, so they will be supersaturated with food
and have only minor effects.

Moose browsing can be very patchy, they will stay in one preferred area and
break every sapling for years, then suddenly disappear.

Deer are a big factor in MN. There are a lot of areas where oak, pine and
yellow birch cannot be regenerated without fences to keep out the deer.