Big Woods, Big Rivers class learning woodland stewardship in southeastern MN

The inaugural Master Woodland Owner class began in May 2016 with a focus on woodland owners in southeastern Minnesota. Comprised of nine woodland owners owning nearly 300 acres in total, the Big Woods, Big Rivers class is learning the ins and outs of woodland stewardship across the eastern broadleaf forest.

The class began at the Gathering Partners of Natural Resources in Winona in May 2016. Participants engaged in an introductory class in the morning to meet fellow landowners and instructors. But it turned out to be too nice of a day to stay inside. Participants took a walk in the woods to learn how to identify tree species native to southeastern Minnesota. In the afternoon, participants engaged in a field tour of invasive plants that impact the region.

Extension Educator Angela Gupta shows tree identification skills to Master Woodland Owners.

In October 2016, participants met up again as a class to learn more about forest health, timber harvesting, and record keeping. We toured Dan Martin’s land near Fountain, MN in the afternoon. Dan’s story as a woodland owner is remarkable-on land that was a sand pit nearly 40 years ago, Dan has planted and pruned black walnut trees for decades. He is a dedicated woodland owner whose successes are showing across his property.

Woodland owner Dan Martin showcases his 35-year old black walnuts to a group of Master Woodland Owners near Fountain, MN.

A few Master Woodlands Owners and instructors gather at Dan Martin's cabin in Fountain, MN.

Master Woodland Owner participants have also been working through the online course since the course began. Between our face-to-face meetings, participants are engaging with fellow landowners and instructors through watching videos online, responding to discussion forums, and uploading photos of their activities.

Despite the wide range of reasons for owning their woods, ranging from timber to wildlife habitat to aesthetics, Master Woodland Owners have a collective mission to be good stewards of their land. Hats off to the first class of Minnesota Master Woodland Owners!

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