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The Northern Forest | 1910's - Early 21st Century

With its majestic pines, glittering lakes, and rich human history the northern forest is central to many Minnesotan's sense of place. But at the turn of the 20th century, the landscape lay in ruins; decades of unchecked logging had been followed by catastrophic fires.  This new episode chronicles efforts to understand and restore this important landscape just as a new threat looms.

A Frequent Visitor:
Catastrophic fires in the late
19th and early 20th centuries resulted in the beginning of major fire suppression efforts that changed the ecology of the forest. In the 1960s and 1970s, Bud Heinselman’s exhaustive research project on fire history

Forest Fire. Photo courtesy of www.forestryimages.org

in the BWCAW revealed that fire is an integral part of that ecosystem. By the 1980’s, foresters around the country arrived at a new understanding of the role of disturbance in forest environments.

Beyond the Forest:
More than 170 years of commercial forestry and decades of forest management have transformed the forests of northern Minnesota. The restoration of white pine serves as a symbol of efforts to re-create a forest that is both

Tree Planting. Photo courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society

biologically and age-class diverse.  Learn how current forest management practices are shifting toward a more ecological view of the forest.

Forest for Sale: With rising land prices, forest land owners–both large and small–are under ever increasing pressure to sell. Large blocks of forest are now being platted and sold off in small pieces to individual owners. This fragmentation of ownership, and of the forest itself, will have a

Photo courtesy of www.forestryimages.org

significant impact on ecological function, forest productivity and forest management opportunities now and in the future.


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