A draft of the Blufflands/Rochester Plateau subsection forest resource management plan is open for public comment until 4:30 p.m., Feb. 3, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The plan consists of two primary products. The draft document outlines the planning process, forest vegetation management goals and directions, implementation strategies and stand selection criteria used to identify the forest stands to be site-visited by foresters and possibly treated over the next 10-year period, fiscal year 2015 through fiscal year 2024. The 10-year stand examination list includes 848 stands totaling 16,183 acres that are being considered for site visits and possible treatment over the 10-year plan implementation period.

Stands on the list have received a preliminary prescription (i.e., harvest, thin, site visit to determine management or re-inventory) based on the directions as stated in the draft document. Once the stands are site-visited and evaluated, final treatment will be assigned. Based on past experience, not all stands identified for site visits result in a timber sale and harvest.

The document and exam list are available online at: www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/subsection/blufflands/index.html.

Paper copies (170 pages) may be requested at the address below.

Comments on the draft document or individual forest stands placed on the list may be submitted to: Robert Pulford, Forestry Division, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 1601 Minnesota Drive, Brainerd, MN 56401; phone: 218-833-8704; fax: 218-833-8668; or email: robert.pulford@state.mn.us.

All written comments received will be considered with responses prepared. Comments and responses will be included in the final plan scheduled for adoption by the DNR in March.

The Blufflands/Rochester Plateau are two ecological subsections in southeastern Minnesota that includes approximately 63,000 acres of state forest timberlands (lands capable of producing timber) administered by the DNR divisions of Forestry and Fish and Wildlife. These subsections cover all or parts of 10 counties: Dakota, Goodhue, Wabasha, Winona, Houston, Fillmore, Mower, Olmsted, Dodge and Rice. The majority of lands subject to this plan are located in: Dakota, Wabasha, Winona, Houston and Fillmore counties. The Whitewater Wildlife Management Area and the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest are the primary state administered units within the Blufflands/Rochester Plateau subsections.

The draft plan takes into consideration a broad range of factors that affect forest management, including: increasing forest health and productivity, managing vegetation for rare species and habitat, balancing timber age classes over time, identifying stands to be managed to accommodate diverse wildlife and ecological resources, and limiting impacts to cultural, visual and water resources - all balanced to provide sustainable forest resources. Sustainable forest management is the underlying goal of the management plan planning process.

The DNR prepares management plans consistent with ecological subsection boundaries to ensure that ecological characteristics are considered as forestry management is implemented. The Blufflands/Rochester Plateau plan is one of 10 ecological subsection planning efforts in the state for the DNR.