Chippewa National Forest: Laurentian Vegetation Management Project


The inter-disciplinary project planning team used the Adaptation Workbook in the spring of 2014, and a final Environmental Assessment for the project was released in June 2015. The project is now moving forward with implementation. 

The Chippewa National Forest used the Adaptation Workbook to consider climate change risks and adaptation actions for a large forest management project. The forest published n Environmental Assessment and final decision for this project in June 2015.

Project Area

This project area is located in the eastern part of the Deer River District on the Chippewa National Forest. The project area encompasses approximately 50,826 acres. The Forest Service ownership within the project area is roughly 30,724 acres, about 60 percent of the area. The majority of the proposed activity for this project occurs in the Dry-Mesic Pine landscape ecosystem, which historically had mature and older stands dominated by a supercanopy of red pine and white pine. Mixed red maple and paper birch would have been found in the subcanopy, along with white spruce, balsam fir, aspen, northern red oak, bur oak and bigtooth aspen.

Management Goals

Suomi Hills Hiking Trail, which runs through the Laurentian project area.

The overall goal for this project is to move the area closer to the Chippewa National Forest's existing goals for vegetation composition within the different Landscape Ecosystems.  Management activities on approximately 3,200 acreas are specifically designed to: 

  • Increase acres of upland white pine and spruce/fir forest types
  • Decrease acres of upland aspen forest types
  • Maintain and increase structural and species diversity in young and old stands. 

Climate Change Impacts

For this project, the most important anticipated climate change impacts include:
Aspen is projected to decline across northern Minnesota, and this project is specifically focusing on older aspen stands (80-90 years old) that will be most vulnerable to stress
White spruce and balsam fir are expected to decline across northern Minnesota, and 40-year-old spruce plantations in the project area may be overcrowded because they have never been thinned.
Armillaria, hazel, and pine bark beetles could all be more challenging for red pine under climate change.

Adaptation Actions

Project participants used the Adaptation Workbook to develop several adaptation actions for this project, and also identified many ways that "business-as-usual" forest management on the Chippewa NF aslo supports climate adaptation. Some of these ideas included:

Project-wide considerations
1.2. Maintain or restore hydrology.
Removing the Jingo Lake Impoundment to improve watershed and stream habitat
Removing roads that are identified as unnecessary, and only building temporary roads
Aspen stands
2.3. Manage herbivory to promote regeneration of desired species.
5.1. Promote diverse age classes.
Create patches of young aspen (0-9 age class) by clearcutting approximately 800 acres.
Clearcut bigger patches of aspen, which keeps deer away from the interior of the cut.
9.1. Favor or restore native species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
Convert aspen stands to other forest types that are better suited to future climate conditions, focusing on stands were oak and paper birch (40 acres) or white pine (250 acres) are present.
5.2. Maintain and restore diversity of native species.
Reserve long-lived conifers oaks, and cedar in managed aspen stands.
Red pine
1.4. Reduce competition for moisture, nutrients, and light.
Thinning will occur on 660 acres of red pine stands
5.1. Promote diverse age classes.
Trees from all size classes will be cut in red pine stands to maintain structural diversity
5.2. Maintain and restore diversity of native species.
9.1. Favor or restore native species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
Species other than red pine will be retained during thinning operations.
Black ash
9.1. Favor or restore native species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
9.2. Establish or encourage new mixes of native species.
Diversity planting after harvest in black ash stands would occur on about 13 acres (black spruce, tamarack, white spruce, yellow birch, white pine, hackberry, and other suitable species)

Project Documents

Next Steps

The final decision for this project was issued in June 2015, and the project will be implemented over the next 10 years.

Learn More

To learn more about this project, contact Stephen or learn more at:


Lowland/ bottomland hardwoods, Plantations, Upland hardwoods

Last Updated

Friday, November 25, 2016