Landscape Stewardship Planning

Loons, Lunkers and Logs is a collaborative project between the SWCD, Board of Soil and Water Resources and Minnesota DNR Forestry Division to support local conservation work encouraging sustainable forest management and forest protection on private lands.

According to the agencies, “ Research of over 1,300 lakes by MN DNR Fisheries revealed that phosphorus concentrations in lakes are directly related to land use disturbance in a watershed. Fisheries determined that maintaining forestland cover and perennial vegetation in a given watershed to 75% is a critical metric for good water quality.”

Using environmental analysis data within the scope of a HUC 8 major watershed, the project’s planning and local conservation advisory teams will identify areas on non-industrial private lands where water quality, forest diversity, or habitat may benefit from increased forest management resources and outreach. This ecological quality risk evaluation, followed by recommendations from the conservation planning team, is then compiled into a guidance document to be used for implementation of a targeted private forest management program within the watershed. Following the analysis, prioritization, and planning stages of the project, a local technical team of conservation professionals from state and local agencies utilize the data to perform targeted outreach encouraging voluntary and beneficial forest stewardship practices and protection program enrollment on those priority areas.

In 2020, the Big Fork River Watershed Landscape Stewardship Plan (LSP) planning phase began.  A group of 25 state, regional, and local forestry and conservation professionals held a series of three meetings to assess the watershed’s GIS data and make recommendations to develop the plan. Once complete, this specialized forestry/water quality document can be used to support other larger regional planning efforts that include the Big Fork River. The Big Fork River LSP is scheduled to be completed and utilized for private forest management outreach and implementation in 2021. Efforts to develop LSPs for other major watersheds in our area are currently underway.