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A Framing Paper about Minnesota’s Forests and a Report of Meeting Outcomes

In 2003, the Blandin Foundation undertook the Vital Forests/Vital Communities (VF/VC) Initiative in recognition of the importance of Minnesota’s forests and forest industries to the health of forest-based communities. Many of Minnesota’s communities, especially in the northern third of the state, have a history, identity, and economy strongly shaped by forests. The VF/VC Initiative continued into 2009, and, during the nearly 6 year period of the Initiative, many projects and events were sponsored. An important part of the VF/VC Initiative was convening key partners and stakeholders to Minnesota’s forest sector to consider likely scenarios and possible futures. One of the Initiative’s projects involved a series of study tours dubbed “Seeing the Forest AND the Trees: How to Make the Most of Minnesota’s Woods”. This effort included study tours in the Great Lakes region as well as travel to Finland and Sweden in September 2008.

In October 2013, with nearly five years and a major economic recession occurring since the conclusion of the VF/VC Initiative, stakeholders and interested parties were invited to reconvene and reflect on what has happened since the Initiative concluded, and how Minnesota’s forest future is currently viewed. A framing paper was prepared to provide context for the gathering held October 23, 2013 in Cloquet, Minnesota. Accomplishments and outcomes from the VF/VC Initiative were briefly summarized, and a snapshot of the current state of Minnesota’s forest sector and recent areas of change was provided. The paper also raised questions that stakeholders and participants in the 2013 event were invited to consider. This document includes the framing paper that was finalized with input from event participants. This document also includes a report of outcomes from the event held on October 23.

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