Forest Lands Pose as Classroom

Northland Uncovered: Cloquet Forestry Center

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Northern Minnesota is known for its large forests and some Minnesotans have been studying them for more than a hundred years.

“Learning from the past is really important as we think about how to manage for the future,” said Linda Nagel, Director of Operations at the Cloquet Forestry Center.

Sam Green was the first head of the Forestry Department at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

He was concerned about forest lands being cut around the turn of the century.

Green spearheaded an effort to obtain some of Minnesota’s 17 million acres of commercial forest for students to study.

“We have, in some cases, decades to almost 100 years worth of research,” said Nagel.

Established in 1909, the land was purchased from 1854 ceded territory.

Research officially began in 1911.

Green recognized not every piece of ground needed to be cleared of trees or have agriculture on it.

“He actually fought for some areas of the forest to not be harvested when this station was initiated and those areas are still in existence today and they’re over a couple 100 of years old,” said Nagel.

Giving researchers the opportunity to study trees not often found anywhere else in the country.

“Those areas actually represent a long history of disturbances. There’re multiple fire scars that you can measure on those trees,” said Nagel.

The area is home to many buildings.

The original log house still stands, but there are now newer cabins and dorms for students to stay, along with a laboratory.

“This can be a really transformative part of their education,” said Nagel.

Today, Sam Green’s mission lives on.

“The research that we do here is really related to creating and promoting sustainable forest management practices,” said Nagel.

Helping the students of today plan for the future.

“If we can look back, learn from those experiences, and use that information to help identify creative ways forward, that’s a really useful approach,” said Nagel.

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