Award-winning partnership improves conditions of forests and grasslands

From left to right: Katie Zlonis, LLBO DRM, Kirk Larson, Chippewa NF, and Bobby Henderson, Chippewa National Forest. Forest Service photo.

MINNESOTA - A partnership with the Northern Research Station and the Chippewa National Forest received the 2017 Eastern Region Honor Award for applying knowledge globally. Much of what we know about the ecology, productivity, and management of northern forests including red pine, bottomland hardwoods, effects of burning and proposed effects of climate change, has been learned through long-term and large scale experiments conducted on the three Experimental Forest in northeastern Minnesota on the CNF.

These experiments could not have taken place without a remarkable 65-year partnership between the scientists at the NRS Station in Grand Rapids and staff on the CNF. One of the great challenges of maintaining such a long-term partnership is staff changes. These experiments have spanned the careers of three generations of scientists and national forest staff. This partnership is an example of scientists and managers working hand-in-hand to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. Partnership success is built on mutual respect, trust, and recognition that our respective organizations cannot do their jobs without each other.

Forest botanists Kirk Larson and Bobby Henderson along with Katie Zlonis, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Division of Resource Management, received an honorable mention for their landscape approach to non-native invasive species control program in the category of sustaining forests and grasslands. The Forest Service and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe worked together on the restoration of selected areas on the CNF that have been degraded by non-native invasive plant infestations. Together the Forest and LLBO have a common interest in improving and protecting botanical resources within various watersheds of the CNF, including areas of the Upper Mississippi River Headwaters. This collaborative partnership provided the opportunity to hire seasonal workers from the local Leech Lake Tribal College and nearby local communities.

The USDA Honor Awards program is a tradition going back to 1947 that gives us the opportunity to publicly celebrate individuals and groups who have made the greatest contribution to the achievement of our mission.