The Brainerd School Board Monday approved a new Forestview School Forest Management plan.
The plan reflects the first 10 years of the forest, established in March of 2005, and sets goals for the next 10 years of forest management.
The plan was prepared by the forest's management committee, which consists of Dalen Hodge, Chris Hanson, Robin Knutson, Layne Danielson, Elizabeth Harrison, Daniel Wilhelm, Dustin Olson, Amy Holm, Jonathan Anderson and Dean Makey. It was presented Monday night by Makey and Hanson.
The plan highlights management goals set up in 2006 and details the progress toward achieving those goals. It also details goals which have not been accomplished, and names steps towards completing them.
One of the most important goals for the next 10 years is to maintain the improvements already in place, Makey said. Other priority items include controlling invasive species, cleaning up and salvaging wind-damaged timber from a wind storm last fall and replacing an observation deck, which was damaged during the same storm and removed.
The only invasive species in the forest Makey has identified is buckthorn, a shrub which can grow to a large height if left unchecked.
"It's small and easily pulled out of the ground right now," Makey said. "We might have to set up teams to go through the forest and pick them out."
Staff from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have said the Forestview School Forest is one of the most used in the state, Hanson said.
"There's more than 100 in the state," Hanson said. "And ours serves close to 2,000 students per year."
Projects completed during the first 10 years of the forest not on the original management plan include adding nesting boxes for songbirds, adding a butterfly garden, installing benches along trails, adding trail cameras to be used with science class studies and adding a composting bin.
Many of the projects completed during the first 10 years of the forest have been spearheaded by students, Hanson said.
"I'm amazed at the amount of work 30-plus students can get do in a short amount of time," Hanson said. "They can do a lot if they're organized."
Goals set up during the initial plan that haven't been accomplished include building a pavilion or amphitheater-style seating facility, developing an oak tree regeneration area, creating an aspen tree management unit, expanding the initial trail system and erecting observation blinds near the artificial grouse drumming logs.
New goals for the next 10 years include establishing native prairie grasses, coordinating the dumping of school refuse at the sand hill area, expanding the cross-country ski trail and creating trails for snowshoeing and walking dogs, maintaining artificial nesting structures and identifying and controlling invasive species and noxious species.
The forest's management committee was formed in 2004 and recommended 60 acres of forest land adjacent to the school be set aside as a forest. The lands were approved as a school forest by the DNR Commissioner on March 3, 2005. The forest was formally dedicated as the Dean Makey School Forest on May 11, 2007.
Board member Tom Haglin said the forest is a big marketing tool for the district, and offers something unique not all districts have.
"It's a tremendous asset we're probably still underutilizing," Haglin said.
Hanson said many community members who find their way to the park for a walk or to take their dog for a stroll echo that point.
"A lot of people say they had no idea it was there," Hanson said.