Superior National Forest: TomaInga Project


The TomaInga project planning team used the Adaptation Workbook in September 2016, and they're currently refining their ideas for the project's Proposed Action.  

A project planning team on the Superior National Forest used the Adaptation Workbook to consider climate change impacts and adaptation actions for a large vegetation management project.

Project Area

The TomaInga project area covers 60,459 acres that are, of which over 48,000 (80%) are owned and managed by the Forest Service. Minnesota State Highway 1 runs through the middle of this project area, along with the Little Isabella River. This landscape lies just to the south of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and contains numerous lakes and waterways. The area contains three primary Landscape Ecosystems: Dry-Mesic Red and White Pine, Jack Pine/ Black Spruce, and Lowland Conifer.

Management Goals

A red pine stand with good white pine regeneration in the TomaInga project area.

The project planning team for TomaInga used a Midlevel Assessment of forest conditions to establish some general goals and management directions for the project.  In order to more closely match the desired conditions stated in the Forest Plan, the TomaInga project will generally attempt to: 

Increase the young age class in all Landscape Ecosystems (LEs) through harvests and prescribed burns

Decrease acres of red pine and aspen in particular LEs

Increase acres of jack pine, white pine, and black spruce in particular LEs

Convert older, even-aged plantations to uneven or multi-aged stands through variable thinning or partial harvest methods

Reduce hazardous fuels and ladder fuels


Climate Change Impacts

Deer browse damage on a white pine seedling in the TomaInga project area.
For this project, the most important anticipated climate change impacts include:
Less frozen ground in the future could mean fewer harvest opportunities (particularly in southern tier with lowlands and mixed ownership)
Deer have increased in this project area as moose have declined, and climate change will likely continue this trend
75% of the pine stands in this project area are 80+ years old, so they may be more vulnerable to insects, disease, wind, and fire

Adaptation Actions

Project participants used the Adaptation Workbook to develop many possible adaptation actions for this project.  The list will be considered and refined as the team develops the Proposed Action for the TomaInga project.  Some of the ideas being considered include:

Entire project area
1.3. Maintain or restore riparian areas.
Plant more long-lived conifers in riparian areas - consider site characteristics and plant "decreasers" on northern aspects and plant more pines or hardwoods on southern aspects.
2.2. Prevent the introduction and establishment of invasive plant species and remove existing invasive species.
4.1. Prioritize and maintain unique sites.
4.2. Prioritize and maintain sensitive or at-risk species or communities.
Protect candidate Research Natural Areas and Unique Biological Areas from invasive species - tightly enforce BMPs
Tightly enforce BMPs in areas with sensitive plant species.
5.1. Promote diverse age classes.
7.1. Reduce landscape fragmentation.
Use stand-replacing fire to create a large, young patch
Harvest adjacent to young forest areas on other ownerships
Jack Pine/ Black Spruce
5.2. Maintain and restore diversity of native species.
Plant variety of species after harvest where appropriate - ELTs 11, 13, 6, 17 with deeper soils
6.1. Manage habitats over a range of sites and conditions.
Plant jack pine on a variety of sites (ELT 13) so it has many chances to succeed.
Red Pine Plantations
3.1. Alter forest structure or composition to reduce risk or severity of wildfire.
Consider fuel reduction treatments in red pine plantations, even outside of WUI
5.1. Promote diverse age classes.
Variable density thinning in red pine plantations - consider large and small gaps.
Consider final harvest of some stands.
1.1 Reduce impacts to soils and nutrient cycling.
9.1. Favor or restore native species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
Convert aspen stands to mixed pines on dry sites - ELT 11, 17

Project Photos

Click to enlarge photos

A previous prescribed burn in the TomaInga project area, designed to reduce understory fuels in a mature pine stand.
This recent prescribed burn killed more than 80 percent of understory balsam in a mature pine stand, with less than 10 percent mortality of the overstory trees.

Next Steps

This project idea will be refined over the next several months and a final Proposed Action will be released for public comment in 2017.

Learn More

To learn more about this project, contact Stephen


Lowland/ wetland conifers, Upland conifers, Upland hardwoods, Fire and fuels

Last Updated

Wednesday, December 14, 2016