Announcing 2014 Minnesota Family Woodlands Conferences in Bemidji and Rochester

We’re excited to announce two major family woodland owner conferences this spring. Save the dates!

MFWC Rochester flyer cover imageEach will feature day-long workshops, tours, and 24 presentations by local professionals and University of Minnesota Extension faculty — all designed to help landowners implement their vision and keep their woods healthy, diverse, and productive.

Rochester conference details:

Download a complete flyer and registration form here (PDF). (You can also register online.)

Friday is an optional day of extended workshops and tours:

  • Forest Pest First Detector workshop: These workshops are for anyone who wants the latest in-depth information about new invasive pests that effect in Minnesota’s landscape trees and urban and rural forests. Details at the Forest Pest First Detector page.
  • Monitoring seasonal change: Minnesota phenology. Careful observation can lead to all kinds of insights about how your woodland works. We’ll discuss tools and procedures to observe, record, and report nature on your land for your own records as well as contributing to citizen science research on a changing climate.
  • Hardwood management and riparian forest field day. Tour two outstanding southern Minnesota Tree Farms, discussing topics including hardwood management, riparian restoration – dealing with reed canary grass and hardwood growth, cooperative trail development, and more. Details are in this field day flyer.


  • Beginning Bird Watching: Learn tips and techniques on bird identification, bird song, and habitats.
  • Chainsaw Maintenance: Learn how to maintain and sharpen your saw so it is in good working order when needed.
  • Chainsaw Safety: Discover the do’s and don’ts in chainsaw safety, including protective equipment.

    Visiting a tree seedling vendor at the 2014 Bemidji conference.
    Visiting a tree seedling vendor at the 2014 Bemidji conference.
  • Conservation – Private Land Protection Options: Explore options available to landowners for permanently protecting their land, including: RIM and prairie bank easements and working with organizations such as the MN Land Trust. Learn potential financial benefits too.
  • Decorative Floral Products from Your Woods or Backyard: Learn more about crafts and decorative woody florals like curly willows, dogwoods and flowering willows and shrubs you can plant on your property or in your backyard, as well as Forest Farming resources and Extension’s new Minnesota Harvester Handbook.
  • Early Detection of Forest Invasives: Discover the invasive species that are on Minnesota’s doorstep (or already here) and what can be done to combat them.
  • Emerald Ash Borer and Our Ash Woods: An update on the current status of the borer in Minnesota and practical steps family woodland owners can take to prepare for its arrival.

    Land transfer presentation
    Extension’s Mike Reichenbach discusses Intergenerational Land Transfer in Bemidji.
  • Forest Resilience: Steps for Family Woodland Owners: Learn the steps needed to improve the health and vigor of your woods in the face of more frequent storms, droughts, and other uncertainty.
  • Goats and Invasive Species: Discover how goats can be an effective, but unconventional tool in an effort to eradicate invasive species in your woods.
  • Grazing Your Woods – Problems and Solutions: Hear how uncontrolled grazing can degrade your woods for decades, but how a well managed system can improve wood and forage quality.
  • Hardwood Direct Seeding: Reforestation by Imitating Nature: Learn how direct seeding can be the best way to re-establish tree cover in southern Minnesota. Discover the ins and outs of this technique and whether it’s right for you.
  • Intergenerational Land Transfer: Discover the essential steps in keeping your woods forested and in the family for generations. Also addressed will be family communications and legal and financial arrangements.
  • Landowner Assistance and the Natural Resources Conservation Service: Learn the types of federal technical and financial assistance that are available to help manage your woodland resources. Understand the steps in developing a conservation activity/forest management plan.
  • Landscapes, Watersheds and Your Woods: Learn to see connections between your woods and the larger watershed, with a focus on natural resource priorities identified in the Root River Landscape Plan.
  • Phenology: Monitoring Seasonal Change: Hear about the fun and value of carefully observing, recording, and reporting the seasonal changes on your woodland property or favorite natural spot and how to join a growing network of citizen scientists.

    Phenology image
    Learning about budbreak and seasonal observation in Bemidji. We’ll be outside in Rochester!
  • The Nuts and Bolts of Timber Sales: Learn the tools and information needed for a successful timber harvest experience, including the importance of a management plan, role of a forester, provisions of a good contract, and choosing a logger.
  • Prescribed Burning as a Management Tool: Learn how burning vegetation can be a successful management tool. The discussion will include safety, monitoring weather, and regulations.
  • Snakes of Minnesota: Get to know native snakes, including rattlesnakes: how to avoid them and what to do if you come across one.
  • Windbreaks: Diversify with Multiple Benefits and Purposes: Understand why and how to diversify your windbreak species. From farmstead/rural shelterbelts, living screens, odor mitigation to living snow fences, windbreaks can offer multiple benefits. Resources, cost sharing programs, and species selection will be discussed.
  • Southeast Landscapes and Your Woods: Hear an update on regional priorities for southern landscapes and how your woods can benefit from and contribute to regional forest priorities.
  • Tree Identification: Discover the tree species that inhabit your property. Both hardwoods and conifers will be discussed but emphasis will be on hardwood species.
  • Woodland Stand Improvement: Find out how well-designed partial harvests and other “intermediate treatments” can improve the health and value of your woods. Woody Invasives in Southern Minnesota Woods: Find out if you have any woody invasives lurking on your property. Learn how to identify some of the strongest competitors and what you can do to combat them.
  • Woody Invasives in Southern Minnesota Woods: Find out if you have any woody invasives lurking on your property. Learn how to identify some of the strongest competitors and what you can do to combat them.

Register now for the April Rochester conference. Conference registration is $45 until March 1, $50 thereafter.


These conferences are offered by the University of Minnesota Extension and sponsored by the Minnesota DNR-Forestry, the Minnesota Forest Stewardship Program, and the Minnesota Tree Farm System.

MN DNR logo

UMN Extension workmark vertMrnMDtoD

The University of Minnesota Extension Forestry team.

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  1. Rochester Area: I am in my 70’s and own a 100 acre woodland, we need ideas on how to transfer this natural area to future generations with the idea of not letting it be developed for farming or housing. What state, private, or national programs exist to save areas for nature. Many people purchase a nice woodland and the first thing they do is build a big old house and garage out in the woods, and there go the trees, plants, and fauna. Would like to keep my woodland wild for nature only. Will attend Rochester meeting.

    1. Ron and Bob, thank you both for the comment. Particularly for the Rochester conference, we will work on getting good speakers to address long-term land protection issues. As Bob says, conservation easements, which typically involve donating or selling the development rights to a land trust or public entity, are one option. More information is available from organizations like the Minnesota Land Trust. It can be difficult to attract interest from land trusts though for small parcels unless they are in particularly high conservation value areas.

      Bob, as for changes in land value, I have heard of both declines and increases in land value as a result of placing a conservation easement. Not all easements are the same–some allow more active land management and use than others, and some offer different kinds of protection, are for different durations (not all are perpetual) and so on. I have not seen reliable research confirming a change in land value in either direction though.

      Thanks again for the comments, I hope we’ll be able to address this issue well at the conferences.

  2. Like Mr. Johannsen, I am in my 70s and would like to protect my wild lands in perpetuity. Maybe the best way to do that is to place a conservation easement on the land. However, I know that once a conservation easement is placed on a property’s deed that it immediately becomes more difficult to sell the property and that its value depreciates as a result. I would like it if someone could research and lead a discussion on which organizations in the state will issue conservation easements and pay the property owner the difference between the property’s value before and after attaching the easement to the property’s deed. Maybe we all could get an idea on the best options available to landowners for protecting their property permanently without creating a personal financial hardship. I will be attending the Bemidji conference.

  3. Bemidji Conference. Would like to attend a workshop on the following:
    Releasing ‘crop trees’, especially aspen stands, but oaks as well.
    Wild turkey habitat mgmt. in south Laurentian Mixed Forest area
    Gray Fox mgmt., numbers sustainability and home range area necessary
    Raccoon mgmt., numbers sustainability and home range area necessary

    Have been disappointed to attend workshops and the ‘instructor’ just gives an introduction to the subject, Want to attend a workshop that goes beyond ‘101’ level that is essentially a lyceum for elementary children. I offer a challenge to the facilitators/instructors. I don’t want a 4-year degree program, just useful information, not introductory information. That is easily available by other sources. I’d like experts offering expert insights and info.

    1. Ken, we have two wildlife specialists on board for the Bemidji conference so far: John Loegering (UMN Extension specialist, Crookston) and Emily Hutchins, MN DNR – Wildlife. I will pass these topics on to them. We will likely also have a series of talks on managing different forest types, and I myself am likely to present on intermediate treatments, likely in the context of improving stand vigor and resilience.

      And thank you for the comment about the level of instruction. I am 100% on board and will work with our presenters on that. While there’s a limit to how far we can go because of variation in audience members’ experience and knowledge coming in, I too think that most are best served by presentations that go beyond the 101 and get deeper into the topic. Maybe we can check in again after the conference on how well we accomplish this, but I appreciate your suggestion and take it to heart.

  4. The Bemidji conference sounds interesting: forest management techniques with wildlife habitat management? Any harvesting & regeneration response sessions? We are looking more to biomass harvesting here, which is great as it develops our markets and improves utilization. Lots of interest in remote areas as villages go back to wood for fuel. An interest in village woodlot management looking also to improve habitat through harvesting, for moose, grouse and furbearers. An toward long term subsistence values. Please forward an agenda/speaker list. Thank you!

  5. Ken,

    Re your interest in “crop tree release”. This is a topic that is most
    easily understood in the woods, and not on paper….I’m not sure where
    you are located, but there have been a couple of workshops in the past
    year which have covered crop trees for oaks…one in Grand Rapids put
    on by Julie M of Extension…one at SJU put on by Tom Kroll…

    Another suggestion is to hire a consultant who is familiar with this process
    in hardwoods, and have them visit your land and mark some trees for you…
    …This way you spend the money and time focusing on your own situation and habitat….

    Give me a call if you have further ???

    Peter Bundy CF
    Masconomo Forestry

  6. Dear “My MN Woods”
    I have a pretty good background in Forestry (30 plus years) and I would love to hear some of the specific examples where placing a conservation easement increased land value (I think someones pulling your leg).

    Your removing rights that are normally purchased with the property and this somehow increases value???

    Land 101: Land is like a bundle of rights (think of a handful of pencils as equal to rights of ownership). If you give someone the right to build a road, power line, harvest timber, phone line, plant trees, ditch or preserve/manage it forever, your relinquishing rights (pencils in example). So if you go from 100 to 20 pencils (rights) (obviously, a road or utilities could increase value) because you placed a conservation easement on the property how does this increase value except maybe to a few special interest groups?

    Managing for specific wildlife species is about managing habitat (song birds, grouse , raccoon, fox etc.) or prey base (fisher, pine martin, fox, wolves, raptors, etc).
    Questions try:
    (Put forestry or wildlife question in subject line)

    Have a Great Holiday Season
    Tom Crumpton
    Owner: Woods & Wildlife Forestry Services (on the Canadian border)
    Also: 1 B/R Apartment for rent on the Rainy River

    1. Thanks Tom for the comment. Most landowners who choose to put a conservation easement on their property are not motivated primarily by the prospect of increased land value. You are correct that a property with more restrictions on it would not generally have a higher price, all other things being equal. The situations in which it could occur are where you have highest and best use taxation in place and where the easement limits the highest use to which that property can be placed, which in most cases is development. Again, not a common situation, but I wrote that in response to a statement to the effect that “I know that once an easement is placed on a property it immediately becomes harder to sell, and the land value depreciates as a result.” My point was simply that generalizations like that are rarely true. There is variation within easements (how many, and which, “pencils” are retained and given up), how tax assessors view the changes, and so on. It would be a mistake to think that values always decline.

    2. Land value; easements. This is interesting, would not a wild life easement be of great value to the native species, nature. I understand humans measure value in dollars and resale, but we are speaking of nature and its value to all life, not just humans and their developing or using the property to the loss of nature. If one needs to build a house or dig a copper mine, then nature has no value and a big hole in the ground or a pile of boards wins the argument. I feel a few people must support nature, we have plenty of corn fields where I live and few prairies remain. Nature and humans have a difficult time living together, humans always win with their lawn mowers and chainsaws.