Fire in Minnesota Ecosystems

This event has been rescheduled for January 29 & 30, 2020.

Fire in MN Ecosystems graphic - MN state boundary with forest background

Fire is a major driver of ecosystem dynamics across much of Minnesota. Fire suppression, while beneficial, has changed these systems in ways that may threaten long term ecosystem health and productivity. While a variety of silvicultural and other treatments attempt to mimic some fire effects, there is interest in better understanding the roles and outcomes of fire in order to improve the function of our fire-dependent plant communities in the fire suppression era. This two-day event will explore how fire has shaped Minnesota's natural systems and how land managers can safely reintroduce fire where appropriate. Sessions and panel discussions will focus on fire effects in pine- and oak-dominated forest and woodland communities and in the aspen parklands system. These discussions are planned with and for the diverse community interacting around fire-related issues, and seek to build the understanding and communication to support further work toward collaborative solutions.

Offered by the Sustainable Forests Education Cooperative and the Lake States Fire Science Consortium. The Tallgrass Prairie and Oak Savanna Fire Science Consortium, the Oak Woodlands and Forest Fire Science Consortium, and the Minnesota Sharp-Tailed Grouse Society are also supporting this Workshop.

Workshop information:

Dates: January 29-30, 2020
Location: University of Minnesota Cloquet Forestry Center, 175 University Rd, Cloquet, MN 55720
Cost: $100 members, $60 students, and $180 others, prices increase 10% after 5:00pm on January 23, 2020.
CEUs: Continuing education credits will be available for this workshop. More information will be posted as it becomes available.
Lodging: More information about local lodging will be posted soon.
Contacts: For any questions please contact Eli Sagor, or Jack McGowan-Stinski,, 989-287-1734
More information: Keynote address, Topic areas and presentersplanning team and a special note for Forest Service employees

Register for the event

Workshop resources:

Keynote addresses:

Keynote One: Gregory Nowacki, PhD (Regional Ecologist, Acting Soil Program Leader, Forest Service, Eastern Region) will provide the keynote address exploring and providing a general overview of Minnesota’s ecosystems at the Province Level (Boreal, Pine-Hardwoods, Oak-Hickory, Parklands, and Central Plains Prairie), and then wrap up with a focus on the fire-adapted/-dependent oak-hickory ecosystem, the consequences of fire suppression (mesophication), and the need for Rx burning.

Keynote Two: John Almendinger (Ecological Land Classification Program Consultant, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources) will follow Greg Nowacki and provide more detail on Minnesota’s fire-dependent ecosystems: fire-dependent pine forests in the Laurentian Mixed Forest Province, fire-dependent oak forests in the Eastern Broadleaf Forest Province, prairie and brushland in the Prairie and Aspen Parklands Provinces.

Topic areas:

The three topic areas we will cover over the two-day workshop include:

Oak Ecosystems and Fire

Presenters and Panel:

    • Oak fire (scar) history - Michael C. Stambaugh, PhD, Associate Research Professor, Missouri Tree-Ring Lab, University of Missouri
    • Fire as a mediator of competition among oaks, grasslands and mesic forests - Lee Frelich, PhD, University of Minnesota
    • Prescribed fire effects on oak timber value - Joseph M. Marschall, Sr. Research Specialist, Missouri Tree-Ring Lab, University of Missouri

Pine Ecosystems and Fire

Presenters and Panel:

    • Pine fire (scar) history - Michael C. Stambaugh, PhD, Associate Research Professor, Missouri Tree-Ring Lab, University of Missouri

Parkland Ecosystems and Fire

Presenters and Panel:

    • Aspen Parkland- a most dynamic ecosystem of northwest Minnesota- W. Daniel Svedarsky Ph.D., Emeritus Research Biologist, NW Research and Outreach Center, University of Minnesota 
    • Prescribed burning (and seasonal effects) to improve management for brushland-dependent species - Rebecca Montgomery, PhD, Department of Forest Resources, University of Minnesota
    • Strategies for Success: Fire in the Aspen Parklands – Jonathan Eerkes, Land Steward, The Nature Conservancy

Organizers and planning team: 

  • John Almendinger – Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
  • Paul Dubuque – Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
  • Matt Graeve – Minnesota Chapter of The Nature Conservancy
  • Craig Maier –Tallgrass Prairie and Oak Savanna Fire Science Consortium
  • Jack McGowan-Stinski – Lake States Fire Science Consortium 
  • Brian Palik – Northern Research Station, USDA Forest Service 
  • Mike Reinikainen – Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
  • Madison Rodman – Cloquet Forestry Center, University of Minnesota 
  • Eli Sagor – Cloquet Forestry Center, University of Minnesota

All interested learners are welcome. For accommodations related to ability please contact Madison Rodman at or 218-726-6403.

Contact Us

Eli Sagor, SFEC Program Manager | 218-409-6115

Madison Rodman, SFEC Program Coordinator | 218-726-6403