Hubbard County’s forest inventory will get a much-needed update.

Last week, the Hubbard County Board approved a contract with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for plot-based inventory services at a maximum cost of $35,000.

County Land Commissioner Mark Lohmeier explained the DNR is completing a survey of the upper Mississippi River valley, including Hubbard County, as part of its high-definition Lidar acquisition and forest inventory project.

Lohmeier said a field survey of county forests hasn’t been done in about 30 years. “Other than the updates that we do annually with our routine forest harvest, a lot of this stuff just keeps getting older every year,” he said.

Some of the current inventory data is “virtually useless because it doesn’t reflect what’s really out there,” he continued, especially after storm damage, like from one in 2016.

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When setting up a timber sale, Lohmeier said the inaccurate data results in additional staff time to complete a quick field check and determine the actual tree species, stand quality and volume.

While an inventory could be completed in-house, Lohmeier said it would “require the use of highly accurate GIS equipment and would also require significant training and a serious time commitment from staff to complete the 70 plots. It is estimated that a two-person crew can complete two plots in a 10- to 12-hour day.”

The DNR’s laser system will be much more accurate, he said. The DNR will either complete the plots themselves or hire specialized crews.

They’ll examine fewer forest stands, but it will be much more detailed, Lohmeier said.

The board approved the agreement unanimously.

Lohmeier said, if this DNR system works well, it may become routine every 10, 15 or 20 years. “That’s how they’ll maintain their state forest inventory,” he said.

In related business, the county board did as follows:

  • Reviewed the results of the Oct. 11 timber auction, the final of the year. Twelve tracts of timber, covering approximately 515.7 acres, were sold for $312,071. Lohmeier noted that county timber sales reached $1.4 million in 2021, which is $500,000 more than last year. “That’s a combination of volume and higher prices,” he said.

  • Approved a $3,726 quote from Frontier Precision for two TDC600s with ArcGIS field maps.

  • Accepted the spring 2023 tree-seedling production quote from PRT, Inc. of Dryden, Ontario, totalling $25,717. They will plant 135,775 seedlings. The price breakdown is $185 per 1,000 jack pine, $198 per 1,000 Norway pine and $192 per 1,000 white pine.

  • Approved $27,089 quote from Haataja Contracting, Inc. to replace eight exterior doors at the recycling center.

  • Set a public hearing for proposed changes to the county’s fee schedule at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 16.