The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) plants trees on state lands to reforest harvested areas, provide wildlife habitat, protect watershed values, and maintain the quality of state forests.
Such an effort is underway in the Bemidji area beginning about July 15 and ending about Aug. 15. All sites treated with herbicides will be signed so that the public will know when they are on treated lands.
Professional foresters determine the tree species appropriate for the site, while the DNR hires private contractors to do the actual planting.
“Herbicides will be applied to approximately 49 acres of state land in the Bemidji area to help establish new forests,” said Nick Severson, area program forester. “Some sites will be prepared mechanically by scratching debris and duff away from the soil. We will also apply herbicides to 305 acres of seedlings planted last year to reduce competition and enhance growth.”
This year, local DNR foresters have planted more than 225 acres in the Bemidji area during April and May. More than 165,000 trees, predominantly pines and spruces have been hand planted on sites prepared during the past year.
Minnesota has one of the country’s largest state forest systems and also one of the largest state forest tree planting programs in the nation.
More than 8,000 acres of state forest lands are planted and seeded each year. This is equivalent to an area one-quarter mile wide by more than 50 miles long. In the last 10 years, the DNR has planted or seeded close to 90,000 acres, an area of state forest land equivalent to a strip one-quarter mile wide by 560 miles long, stretching from Minneapolis to Cincinnati, Ohio.
The DNR often chooses to plant pines as a major tree species, particularly red pine, the state tree. The DNR has overseen the planting of 800,000 white pine on state lands to increase the presence of this species in Minnesota’s forested landscapes. Many other native tree species will also be used. Oak and other hardwoods, for example, are widely planted in the state forests of southeastern Minnesota.