1998 Forest Health Highlights, Minnesota
The Resource
Minnesota's trees are a valuable resource. Forests account for 33% of Minnesota's land area, or about 16.7 million acres. The area of all forest land in the State has increased by 0.7 percent since 1977. Private land owners control 48.5% of the timberland; state, county, and municipal governments administer 37.8%, and the National Forest comprises 12.4%.

These forests are important to both the wood products and tourist industry. Forestry related industries and manufacturing employ about 60,000 people. The value of wood products annually exceeds $8 billion. A total of 4 million cords of wood were cut in 1993, pulp and paper and oriented strand board accounts for 34% of the cut. Window frames make up 20% of all the value of products produced. Other products include sawlogs, veneer, post and poles, wood chips for landscaping, and fuelwood, although wood for energy accounts for only 4% of the volume cut, down from 12% in 1990. The Christmas tree industry annually produces more than 3 million trees worth over $25 million.

Trees are also important components in wilderness and urban settings. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area (over 1 million acres) has more visitors than any other wilderness in the United States. Forests in the state are home to the largest wolf and bald eagle populations in the lower 48 states. Annually, millions of people visit to camp, canoe, fish, hike and hunt.

Urban trees increase property values and enhance the beauty of open spaces. More than half of the population of Minnesota lives in the Twin Cities Metro Region. The developed areas of the Metro Region have a dense tree canopy cover of over 50%. At least 10% of the urban area is kept in natural open space including lakes, wetlands, prairie, and forests. No community has planted more than 10-15% of any one species, a lesson learned from the widespread mortality from Dutch elm disease in the 1970's.

Major Forest Types - Minnesota

Since 1990, 64% of oak wilt sites controlled in state!
This was the first year that an oak wilt control program funded with state money was expanded beyond the Federal Cooperative Suppression Area. A major effort was made to identify oak wilt sites and market oak wilt control strategies in these new areas. Public information meetings, mailings, and direct contacts were made to inform local agencies and landowners about oak wilt on their lands, and to discuss and recommend control strategies.

The Mn ReLeaf and LCMR monies were used to treat 473 sites in 19 counties in 1998. The total number of sites now followed in the state oak wilt control program is 8826 infection centers. Since oak wilt control work began in 1990, a total of 5637 sites have been treated. This amounts to 64% of the known oak wilt in the 19 affected counties. See Oak Forest section of this report.

Gypsy moth trap catch up by 265%
The 1998 Minnesota MDA/USDA cooperative gypsy moth trapping program was the largest to date, trapping covered 62 entire counties and six partial counties with total traps set exceeding 25,000. The program's expansion was based on dramatically increasing moth catches and moth movement in Wisconsin the last several years. See the Oak Forest section of this report.

Traps were distributed at one trap per square mile in the seven metro counties, six southeastern counties, and Chisago and Pine Counties. St. Cloud, Duluth along with portions of six metro border counties were also trapped at one trap/ sq. mile. The remaining counties surveyed received one trap/ four sq .miles in rural areas and one trap/ sq. mile in all towns, cities and incorporated areas.

New, this year, was a nursery trapping program involving 70 cooperating nursery stock dealers and landscapers. Nurseries were selected based on stock sources from federally quarantined areas.

As expected moth catches in Minnesota increased dramatically. The final tally of 953 moths represents a 265% increase over 1997's catches. Also, not unexpectedly, most of the action is taking place in the six southeastern counties closest to Wisconsin. Counties trapped outside the metro and southeast regions produced no significant catches.

Overall the southeast reveals a clear east to west pattern but very few site locations coalesce into patterns that would indicate a possible source of infestation. Winona county produced the most moths at 209, an increase of nearly 680% over last year. Olmsted county produced an even greater increase of 1750%, jumping from 8 moths in 1997 to 143 this season. Over all the six SE counties account for 65% of this years total moth catch.

In the Metro, moth catches basically doubled over last year. Hennepin county produced the most moths in the metro yielding 129 moths.

The newly instituted nursery trapping also produced its share of moths, a total of 33. One site in St. Paul produced the season's highest trap catch of eight moths. Responding to this find, MDA staff located three fresh egg masses and other indications that GM has probably been active at this site for at least two seasons. Most discouraging is that this particular site was being used as a holding yard by four different landscaper/dealers and the City of St. Paul. This was the only commercial site where regulatory action is warranted.

A hallmark of this season's GM finds is a nearly total absence of any indication of specific infestation centers. Other than the previously mentioned catch of 8 moths, only 7 traps caught 4-5 moths. All others were 3 or less, the vast majority being single moths.

Until pending egg mass scouting or survey indicates otherwise, no spray programs are scheduled for the 1999 season. Gypsy moth activity is increasing significantly and can be expected to continue at an increasing pace in the coming years. Increased delimiting trapping in 1999 for the southeast and metro is a certainty. Other plans for 1999 regarding re-trapping out-state counties with few or no moth catches this season or expansion into counties not trapped have not been decided. Any decisions will be based on distribution of available resources and current risk for those counties.

Minnesota saw some exceptional weather activity in 1998. The spring and summer of 1998 were fraught with several major storm events that swept across the Minnesota landscape causing tremendous damage to property and the loss of thousands of trees. These storms included tornadoes, straight-line winds, heavy rains, and hail. The magnitude of the economic and ecological losses incurred from these storms is still being assessed but preliminary results of many surveys indicate that the total losses are staggering. Five major storm events occurred between March 29th, 1998 and July 20th, 1998. These storms impacted some 79 cities throughout the southern half of the State. At the end of July some reports put the total incurred losses (preliminary estimates of the damage) at $16,550,000. In late December 1998 the Insurance Federation of Minnesota reported that the total damage claims for the year resulting from these storms had reached at least $1.51 billion, exceeding the sum of all insurance losses recorded in the state from 1948 to 1997.

Spruce budworm in 45th year of outbreak
Statewide, 240,242 acres were defoliated by spruce budworm. Populations and defoliation levels remain very high in northeastern Itasca, northwestern St. Louis and eastern Koochiching Counties. White spruce as well as balsam fir continue to be damaged. Budworm populations and levels of defoliation throughout the rest of Region II were at lower levels than last year. Light defoliation continued in scattered white spruce plantations in Itasca County. In Regions 1 and 3, white spruce plantations continue to be targeted by the budworms. In Region I, heavy defoliation occurred in 1998, but egg mass counts were down for 1999. In Region III, both defoliation and egg mass counts were down compared to 1997. Some white spruce plantations are beginning to experience topkill and low-level mortality.
Aspen and hardwood insect defoliators on upward trend
Over 18,000 acres of hardwoods were defoliated in 1998 by a large array of forest insects including forest tent caterpillar, large aspen tortrix and the fall defoliators. This is up from last year's 2,064 acres defoliated by these insects.

For more information contact:

Gerald Rose,
State Forester
MN Dept. of Natural Resources
500 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155
(651) 296-5971

Minnesota DNR logo

Forest Health Protection
Northeastern Area
USDA Forest Service
1992 Folwell Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108
(651) 649-5261

Northeastern Area, S&PF logo
Updated: March 1999.......

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