Chippewa National Forest: Noma Vegetation Management Project


Chippewa National Forest staff considered climate change effects and possible adaptation actions for a large forest management project. 

The project planning team for the Noma Vegetation Management Project used the Adaptation Workbook in the summer of 2015. The project has passed the formal public comment period and the team is preparing an Environmental Assessment.

Project Area

The Noma Vegetation Management Project occurs on the Blackduck and Deer River Ranger districts of the Chippewa National Forest. This area lies outside of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Reservation and encompasses approximately 72,000 acres, of which a little over one-third is managed by the Forest Service. The project boundary generally extends from the northernmost boundary of the Chippewa NF south to the main stem of the Big Fork River, and from County Highway 26 to MN State Highway 6. This area features relatively flat topography, which a major river corridor and many lakes and wetlands. The Noma Project covers three main Landscape Ecosystems - Boreal Hardwood-Conifer, Dry Mesic Pine-Oak, and White Cedar Swamp.

Management Goals

The Noma Project calls for some clearcuts to regenerate aspen and also some forest-type conversions to reduce aspen acreage overall.

Some of the primary management goals for the Noma Project are to: 

  • move the forest toward stated goals for tree species composition and age class distribution, as outlined in the Forest Plan
  • maintain and improve within-stand tree species diversity, within the context of recognized Native Plant Communities
  • maintain habitat for edge-related game species such as deer, grouse, and woodcock and for native pollinators. 

Specifically, some of the management objectives of the Noma project are to: 

  • reduce the abundance of aspen, paper birch, and balsam fir 
  • increase long-lived conifers like red pine, white pine, and white spruce
  • increase the abundance of young forest and old-growth age classes

Climate Change Impacts

According to the planning team for the Noma Project, the most important anticipated climate change impacts include:
Warmer winters and more variable snowpack conditions could limit the window of opportunity for management in this project area - much of the Noma project requires winter access and frozen ground conditions.
This project area contains a lot of aspen, which could be a risk if droughts become more frequent
Changing water table levels could impact white cedar swamps

Challenges and Opportunities

Climate change will present challenges and opportunities for accomplishing the management objectives of this project, including:


Management operations and access in this project area may be limited by warmer or more variable winters
Milder winters may increase browse pressure from deer in this project area - it historically hasn't been too bad in this area.


If aspen starts to decline or become less vigorous, it could make conversions a little easier in some stands.
There are many potential areas to increase northern hardwood species through planting in this project area.
There is a lot of 20-25 year-old aspen in this project are due to a large windstorm in the 1990s - young and vigorous aspen will be less susceptible.

Adaptation Actions

The project planning team used the Adaptation Workbook to develop several adaptation actions for this project, including:

Entire project area
5.2. Maintain and restore diversity of native species.
9.1. Favor or restore native species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
Aspen acreage will be reduced by deferring some stands - natural succession will convert these stands as aspen breaks apart.
Choose stands to be deferred based on advanced regeneration of other suitable species - particularly a northern hardwood component and stands that have poor access.
2.2. Prevent the introduction and establishment of invasive plant species and remove existing invasive species.
Prevent reed canarygrass invasion in black ash stands by maintaining forest cover - diversifying ahead of EAB arrival.
1.2. Maintain or restore hydrology.
Assess roads that might be suitable for decommissioning - Scoping Document called for 9.6 miles of road decommissioning and 2.2 miles of road closures.
Aspen stands
5.1. Promote diverse age classes.
Regenerate 1200 acres of aspen with coppice cuts and clearcuts. This will create a younger age class on the landscape.
7.1. Reduce landscape fragmentation.
For regeneration, focus on spatial consolidation of smaller stands to create larger blocks of habitat.
5.2. Maintain and restore diversity of native species.
Retain 6-12 trees per acre in aspen clearcuts, favoring species projected to persist under climate change
9.1. Favor or restore native species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
Convert 205 acres of aspen to long-lived conifers such as red and white pine or white spruce.
Convert 45 acres of aspen to northern hardwoods.
Plant additional tree species within aspen stands on 137 acres.

Next Steps

The project has passed the formal public comment period and the team is preparing an Environmental Assessment.

Learn More

To learn more about this project, contact Stephen or learn more at:


Lowland/ wetland conifers, Lowland/ bottomland hardwoods, Upland conifers, Upland hardwoods

Last Updated

Wednesday, November 30, 2016