Endangered Resource: Forests Today
Since the 1990s Minnesota has witnessed an astonishing turnaround in the economic impact of its forests through a second forest revolution.
Today, the state's forest industries harvest approximately 3.8 million cords of wood fiber annually, very close to the harvest numbers at the peak of the white pine logging era. In addition, Minnesotans depend upon forestlands for multiple recreational needs and its intrinsic beauty. With careful management and involvement from all Minnesotans forest resources will continue to provide for generations.
Minnesota forest industries employ more than 60,000 people statewide, have a payroll of over $1 billion, and contribute nearly $6.5 billion annually to the state's economic wealth. The forest industry is the state's third-largest economic engine, behind agriculture and computers. Minnesota's forest industry is an international business.
But this growth relies on a steadily diminishing forest resource. Forest land available for industry and recreation has shrunk from 31.5 million acres in 1820 to about 15 million acres today.
Just as Minnesotans are demanding more forest products to support the economy they are demanding more from forests in the form of recreation.
For many years, popular activities have included hunting, camping, berry-picking and hiking. More recently, Minnesotans have added wildlife-viewing, photography, snowmobiling, cross-country-skiing, all-terrain vehicle use, mountain biking, horseback riding, personal car touring and eco-tourism to the list.
Many of these recreational pursuits are not compatible with one another. Snowmobiling and cross-country skiing, ATV use and horseback riding, can't share the same trails. With a growing demand for forest use, this creates pressure on forest lands and the ecosystem.
With careful management, forests can accommodate many economic, recreational and aesthetic needs. During the 1800s, forest resources were treated as consumable commodities rather than renewable resources. Today Minnesotans work to ensure the sustainability and health of the forests. Industries, government entities, individual landowners, environmental organizations and consumers all play a part in maintaining forest resources.
- pursue the sustainable management, use, and protection of the state's forest resources to achieve the state's economic, environmental, and social goals;
- encourage cooperation and collaboration between public and private sectors in the management of the state's forest resources;
- recognize an consider forest resource issues, concerns and impacts at the site and landscape levels;
- and recognize the broad array of perspectives regarding the management, use, and protection of the state's forest resources, and establish processes and mechanisms that seek and
- incorporate these perspectives in the planning and management of the state's forest resources.
In addition, the law establishes a Forest Resources Council
to implement its initiatives and to advise local, state and federal government entities on forest policies and practices. The council is comprised of representatives from commercial logging contractors, conservation organizations, county land departments, environmental interests, forest products industry, game species management, labor organizations, Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, nonindustrial private forest landowners, research and higher education, resort and tourism industry, secondary wood products manufacturers, and the USDA Forest Service.
Even with such a diverse group of professionals working on forest resource issues, the general public still has a considerable role to play. Minnesotans purchase forest products daily, elect officials to make policy decisions on forest use, recreate in forest lands and seek aesthetic pleasure and enhanced quality of life from the state's forests.
Minnesotans must continue to be good stewards of this renewable resource.