DNR releases draft Sand Dunes State Forest operational plan for public review

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has released a draft operational plan for management of the Sand Dunes State Forest, located in Sherburne County about 3 miles west of Zimmerman.

The draft operational plan will undergo a 45-day public review through Aug. 4. The DNR invites members of the public to read the draft plan on the DNR’s website and provide comments through an online form; both are at www.mndnr.gov/forestry/sand-dunes.

The DNR will hold a public meeting to discuss the plan 6-9 p.m. July 10 at the Big Lake High School cafeteria, 501 Minnesota Ave., Big Lake. The meeting will begin with an open house, followed by a brief DNR presentation about the plan and will conclude with an open microphone session.

Last summer, the DNR organized a group of local residents, government leaders and others to provide perspective and advice on management issues in the Sand Dunes State Forest. The group held six open meetings, and there were often additional people in the audience who joined in the discussion. These discussions helped shape the newly released draft plan. Visit www.mndnr.gov/forestry/sand-dunes for notes and resources related to the meetings.

Sand Dunes State Forest, established by the Minnesota Legislature in 1945, includes about 6,000 acres of land owned and managed by the state. It features pine plantations, rare sand dunes, wetlands, woodlands, oak savanna and prairie and is home to more than two dozen rare plants and animals. The forest is a popular recreation destination for hikers, horseback riders, hunters, campers and others.

For ongoing news regarding Sand Dunes State Forest and future meetings of the advisory group, sign up for email updates at public.govdelivery.com/accounts/MNDNR/subscriber/topics. Enter an email address and then select Sand Dunes State Forest from the drop down list.