Natural Disturbance Forest Habitat Summit

Tuesday November 29th, 9am - 4:15 pm and Wednesday November 30th, 8:30am - 2:30 pm

Cloquet Forestry Center

As foresters we try to emulate natural disturbance through silvicultural practices, but often nature has other ideas, confounding well-implemented prescriptions. Join us for this two-day exploration of connections between natural disturbance, wildlife habitat, and forest management. After a review of key concepts in disturbance ecology we’ll focus on fire, wind, and forest management as disturbance agents, with talks from researchers and practitioners on each. We'll close out the event with a handful of on-the-ground case studies related to biotic and abiotic natural disturbances.

Cost: $125 for SFEC members, $190 for nonmembers, $75 students
CEUs: TBD
Agenda: Click here to download the full agenda.

Agenda in brief

Tuesday, November 29th

The first day opens with an overview of natural disturbance from an ecological perspective, focusing on concepts like intensity, severity, return interval, and spatial scale. We'll then discuss these concepts as they relate to wind, fire, and timber harvesting as disturbance agents and the outcomes of successive disturbances of different kinds.  We'll then go into a block focused on wind as a disturbance agent, first with a focus on the effects on forest ecosystems, then a discussion of wildlife habitat. We'll close the block with case studies from Aitkin County and the St. Croix State Forest.

We'll then go into our block on fire as a disturbance agent, first with an overview of the effects of prescribed and wildfire, then discussions of cultural use of fire, fire effects on bird habitat, outcomes of repeated fire on wildlife habitat as observed through the Pagami Creek and Ham Lake Fires, and connections between fire and sharp-tailed grouse habitat.

Confirmed speakers for the first day include Eli Sagor, Lee Frelich, and Elana West from the University of Minnesota, Mike Mossman from Wisconsin DNR (retired), Jeremy Fauskeeof MN DNR, Melinda Neville of Leech Lake Tribal and Community College, Mike Schrage of Fond du Lac Wildlife, and Aitkin County Land Department staff.

Wednesday, November 30th

We'll start our second day with a block on timber harvesting, with an overview of harvesting as a disturbance agent, then discussions of timber sale design and effects on wildlife habitat, an approach to managing dynamic forest blocks, and bird use of forests subjected to a variety of disturbances. Finally, we'll close the event with a series of short talks on beavers and forests, soil disturbance, the use of intense, short-duration grazing to maintain bur oak savanna habitats, considerations in post-disturbance monitoring, large-scale disturbance to promote moose habitat, and what we know about historic disturbance from tree-ring records. 

Speakers this day include Marcella Windmuller-Campione, Sophie Pitney, Austin Yantes, and Alexis Grinde of the University of Minnesota, Jeff Larkin of Penn State University, Steve Windels of the National Park Service, and David Grosshuesch of the Superior National Forest.