Zippel Bay State Park, on the shore of Lake of the Woods near the Canadian border, will harvest decaying jack pine stands in three of its four campgrounds to reduce fire danger and increase overall forest health, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Jack pine removal began on Oct. 2 within the park. Lady’s-Slipper, Birch and Ridge campgrounds will remain closed to visitors until spring. The rest of the park – including Angler’s Campground, boat access, and all hiking and cross-country ski trails – will remain open.
Aside from the campground closures, impacts to visitors will include noise from logging equipment. Park staff asks visitors to stay a safe distance from the removal sites while work is in progress.
Jack pine forests cover about 9 percent of the Zippel Bay State Park. The pines begin to disintegrate after about 80 years, and the trees in the park are 60 to 115 years old. Because many of the jack pines have reached an over-mature stage, many of them are affected by insects and natural mortality.
Historically, jack pine stands replaced themselves through a hot, total-stand replacement fire. Replicating this through prescribed burning would be difficult and high risk in a park setting. Harvesting the trees and following up with lower intensity prescribed burns and/or site preparation to reduce brush, followed by seeding or planting, is a safer alternative, according to the DNR. Timber harvest methods create openings that allow the full sunlight conditions that are necessary for regenerating stands.
“Removing the old, decaying trees from the campgrounds will allow us, over time, to restore the ecological health of this area and prevent unintended fires,” said Cindy Lueth, Northwest Region Parks and Trails resource specialist. “This logging project is an important step toward ecological regeneration.”
For more information, call the park at 218-783-6252 or check the park’s Web page (http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/zippel_bay/index.html) for updates.
Logo courtesy Minnesota Department of Natural Resources