Forest Enhancement Projects

Small Scale Deer Exclosures

Within a timber harvest reserve area, the Land Department is trying something new: small scale deer exclosures for naturally regenerating white pine. By walking through the reserved stand composed of mixed coniferous trees and mature white pine, the forester has observed a severe lack of larger understory white pine; most likely a result of intense browsing pressure from white tail deer, particularly in the winter months.There are many seedlings present at this site (barely poking out of the leaf litter) that are waiting for their chance. The goal is to establish a small pocket of future seed trees to replace the parent trees. A 10' x 10' x 6' high square fence may seem small, but it effectively discourages white tail deer from entering the confined space. One study by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (Journal of Woodland Management, 2006) led by Karl Martin demonstrated that square deer exclosures as small as 7 meter x 7 meter and 5-foot high were sufficient to deter deer from areas baited with quality browse in the winter months.

The use of dog kennel panels allows for portability and experimentation with fence layout. The Land Department will use remote cameras to monitor the perimeter of the fences and to collect photo evidence of deer presence or absence within the protected site. Based on previous exclosure success and site-level features, we will use insights to adapt and implement future management strategies. Measurements of tree species inside of the exclosure (in the absence/reduction of deer browse) will be compared to species performance outside of the fencing. When our targeted seedlings grow above browse height we will take down the exclosures and re-use as many materials as possible at a new site.

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A look at the mature mixed conifer canopy seed trees

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Small Scale Deer Exclosure Fence: 10' W x 10' L x 6' H

Forest Opening Reclamation and Native Pollinator Project

The Carlton County Land Department has recently been awarded a Conservation Partners Legacy Grant for the establishment of a native pollinator seed collection area within our existing County tree seed orchard. We have a dual objective of reclaiming degraded areas including abandoned logging landings, forest road decommissions, trail side erosion control sites, etc, while simultaneously creating pollinator habitat. Seed will be gathered from a mix of native pollinator wildflowers, grasses and forbs from the proposed collection area and be distributed on degraded sites on county managed land. Every year Carlton County has a variety of timber harvests occur on tax-forfeit public lands. For most harvests there is an area designated as a logging landing where equipment is staged, trees are de-limbed, cut to length, stacked in piles and logging trucks are loaded. Operations on these landings sites can lead to conditions that are susceptible to invasive plants, compact and degrade the soil and struggle to re-vegetate. These areas could benefit greatly from reclamation through scarification and planting a mix of site-specific pollinator plant species. Establishment of these species at reclamation sites will improve soil and water quality. 

By planting native pollinator grasses and forbs endemic to the forest floor and forest edge these sites will provide ecological diversity to the stand and valuable habitat for insects and other wildlife. Local insects (wild bees, flies, wasps, moths, butterflies, and other pollinating insects) are a critical component of Carlton County’s ecology because they pollinate a wide variety of native trees (basswood), forbs and fruits (blueberry, serviceberry, wild sarsaparilla, etc), nuts, vegetables, animal forages, and fiber crops. According to the Minnesota DNR, populations of native insect pollinators have declined throughout Minnesota, the U.S. and North America in recent years. Factors contributing to the declines are complex but include habitat fragmentation and disappearance of floral resources.  By creating and maintaining a pollinator seed collection area and utilizing this seed stock with technical assistance from the DNR Pollinator Best Management Practices and Habitat Restoration Guidelines, the Carlton County Land Department will promote local pollinator populations by restoring and enhancing degraded sites throughout Carlton County. 

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A monarch butterfly caterpillar feeds on a Common Milkweed Plant (Asclepias syriaca)

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A candidate site (abandoned logging landing) for forest opening reclamation

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Site Preparation (stump removal and scarification) prior to establishment of native pollinator plant species