This Bottomland Hardwoods Management Guide provides essential and optional information for managing hardwood stands found in river floodplains throughout the Upper Mississippi River System (UMRS). Specifically, this guide provides information on bottomland hardwood forests which occur between the headwaters of the Mississippi River in northern Minnesota south to pool number 26 just north of St. Louis, MO.
This section further provides diagnostics to help in describing the actual conditions of your stand and in choosing the appropriate management examples for the subject stand given your management objectives. This guide also contains numerous links to basic information about forest management, options in management, habitat benefits, treatment costs, and economic returns.
Why the interest in bottomland hardwoods?
|Map of the Upper Mississippi River System covered in this guide.
Extent across the region:
- Hardwood tree species discussed in this guide occupy more than 3.1 million acres of bottomland habitat across the Upper Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin).
- Bottomland hardwoods represent 17% of the total timberland acreage in Iowa and 16% in Illinois.
- Indiana has 247,997 acres of bottomland hardwoods which is the fewest among states included in this guide.
- Bottomland hardwoods represent less than 2% of the total timberland acres in Michigan and Minnesota.
- Nearly 80% of bottomland hardwood timberland in the Upper Midwest is privately owned.
The North Central States have lost more forested wetlands than any other region of the United States.
Recreation and wildlife habitat:
- Bottomland hardwood forests provide important travel corridors for a variety of wildlife species.
- Mature bottomland hardwood forests provide critical breeding habitat for a large number of bird species, many of which are of management concern according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
- Due to the proximity to water, bottomland hardwood forests provide important nesting sites, food, and shelter for wood ducks and other migratory waterfowl.
- The Upper Mississippi River floodplain provides habitat for 57 mammal species and 37 species of reptiles and amphibians.
Bottomland hardwood forests provide a variety of recreational opportunities including bird watching, fishing, hiking, and hunting.
Other ecological services:
- Bottomland hardwood forests slow water flow and trap sediment and pollutants, dramatically improving water quality and reducing the cost of water treatment.
- Bottomland hardwood forests help control flooding of main river channels by absorbing excess water. This water is often stored for long periods of time in the organic matter and used to recharge the water table during periods of drought.
- Regular flooding along river basins transfers rich organic matter from bottomland hardwoods to the river system increasing aquatic productivity.
- Bottomland hardwood forests reduce sheet and rill erosion and protect upland soil structure.
Management and restoration:
Most bottomland hardwood forests in the Upper Midwest are comprised of single- and multi-aged, mixed species stands.
|(Theresa Heyer, USFS)
- Rotation lengths vary by species and site for even-aged stands but are generally considered biologically mature and ready for harvest when dominant and co-dominant trees reach 20-24 inches in diameter.
- Invasive plant species control is becoming increasingly important in maintaining stand composition and structure in bottomland hardwood forests.
- Matching species to site is an integral part of bottomland hardwood management and restoration.
- Restoration opportunities exist throughout the Upper Midwest and there are many county, state, and federal initiatives to encourage bottomland hardwood restoration.