The Master Woodland Owner program began in 2016 as a comprehensive landowner education program for woodland owners. Offered through the University of Minnesota Extension, the program teaches private woodland owners the ins and outs of forest health, monetizing woodlands, managing woods for recreation and wildlife, estate planning and taxes, and more.
At the Gathering Partners of Natural Resources conference held in St. Paul in May, a new class focusing on landowners in the Twin Cities Metro region began. These landowners also had the opportunity to meet participants from the first Master Woodland Owner course that took place in southeastern Minnesota. After an introductory session to the program, a panel comprised of foresters in the Metro area helped to answer many questions from woodland owners on a wide range of woodland stewardship challenges and opportunities. In the afternoon, the heavy rains didnt’t keep Master Woodland Owners from heading outside for a tree identification session on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul Campus.
Many woodland owners also took part in field tours at the Gathering Partners conference. Some headed to Stillwater and Marine on St. Croix to learn about restoring native woodlands and protecting trees from deer browse. Another field tour included a visit to District Energy in downtown St. Paul to learn how the facility uses woody biomass. Other participants toured a tree nursery at the Crow-Hassan Park Reserve in Rogers to learn how trees are provided to properties in the Three Rivers Park District.
To date, twenty-five landowners have enrolled in the Master Woodland Owner program that own and manage over 1,000 acres of private woodlands in Minnesota. Between face-to-face meetings, Master Woodland Owners are engaging with fellow landowners and instructors through watching videos online, responding to discussion forums, and uploading photos of their activities. Two additional courses are being planned to begin in summer 2017 for landowners in the Laurentian and North Shore regions of Minnesota. For more information on the Master Woodland Owner program, visit mwop.umn.edu.
This piece also appeared in the June-July 2017 issue of Minnesota Woodlands, a publication of the Minnesota Forestry Association.