Spring Habitat Projects for Ruffed Grouse

It’s been a busy spring. I had a Woodland Stewardship Plan for sustainable management of the land written and enrolled with the MN DNR. It comes with a number of benefits including property tax savings. The cost of hiring a certified forester to write the plan was three-quarters paid for by the state. Designing a management plan by consulting with an expert will reveal much of what’s possible in your forest.  It’s a rewarding four-step process. There may be financial rewards, or satisfaction of leaving a legacy of well-managed land.

Planted pines need cones over the terminal buds to prevent deer browsing

Step One: Set management objectives
Put pen to paper and write out your goals. Do you want to create wildlife habitat? Provide firewood cutting? Manage a timber sale? Create an esthetically pleasing woods around the cabin? Or a combination of several of these? Especially if there is multiple landowners or family involved, it helps to keep everyone in agreement on what you want your forest to look like.

Step Two: Inventory and evaluate your land
Make a diagram of your property, and draw boundaries of the cover types (hardwoods, conifers, wetland, etc.). Make note of the surrounding properties types as well. Your forester may help you identify types of trees.

Step Three: Seek professional assistance
Discuss with your advisor your goals and how the inventory of your land matches them. Ask for advice on changes that can help you reach your goals. Your forester may suggest some chainsaw work, a timber sale, a prescribed burn, or perhaps nothing at all. He can suggest the types of trees to plant that will thrive in your property that will match your goals. He can point out problem areas of trees under stress of disease or overcrowding. A picture should emerge of any changes you need to accomplish, and draw another diagram of your property showing them.

Step Four: Finalize your management plan
Your forester can write up a document with the following information: An inventory of tree species, wildlife and cover types. A diagram of your property showing your management goals. Field notes of any observations about your land revealed by your advisor. And finally a work schedule. Describe the planting or cutting you need to do and set a timetable for it.

Planting highbush cranberry with wire deer browse cages

Your county ag or foresters, the local DNR office, or the University of Minnesota Extension “My Minnesota Woods” program will help.

Grouse Walk Trails

Another spring project was trail cutting. Before the trees leaf out is the time to make wildlife habitat trails. I followed old logging trails where I could and kept to high ground. I’m working on a system of trails I can mow with an ATV.
Last Sunday I flushed a grouse walking on one of my new habitat trails. The first of many, I expect, when autumn comes to Minnesota again.

by Joel Schnell

Posted May 17, 2018.

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Joel Schnell is publisher of www.ruffedgrouseminnesota.com
He can be reached at info[at]ruffedgrouseminnesota.com

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