MTE forest management has historically focused on maintaining a diversity of species and habitats for cultural and environmental values, while also maximizing the sustainable production of forest products. These lands are often help up as a model of forests stewardship because of the long history sustainable and pioneering forest management. MTE is currently responding to oak wilt across the Menominee Forest. Oak wilt, a non-native fungus, kills red oak trees by plugging up the cells that move water within the tree and is spread through tree roots or by sap-feeding beetles. Over 300 pockets of forest affected by oak wilt have been found and treated so far on Menominee lands. Treatment typically involves removing any affected or potentially affected oak trees, including the tree stumps to avoid transmission of the fungus through roots. Following treatment, the oak wilt sites are heavily disturbed, with few trees left on site and disrupted forest floor. The typical management approach is to allow natural regeneration to restore these pockets over time.
Climate Change Impacts
Foresters from MTE have used the Adaptation Workbook to identify actions to restore a number of oak wilt treatment sites on the Menominee Reservation. Although red oak, white pine, and other species will naturally revegetate the sites, MTE decided to pick 10 of the largest and most accessible sites to use as climate adaptation sites. MTE foresters prepared the soil and have begun to plant a variety of climate-adapted tree and plant species on these demonstration sites to help them return to forests more quickly.
The tree species being used for the reforestation efforts are expected to be better adapted to future conditions. The plantings also help to increase forest diversity, reduce the risks of any one species being negatively impacted by climate or forest health issues, and provide for high-quality forest products in the future. Tree species selected for planting include: white oak, bur oak, black cherry, , black walnut, chinkapin oak, hackberry, and disesase-resistant American elm. Additionally, understory grasses, herbs, and shrubs are also being planted on these sites to establish entire plant communities.