Old Growth Restoration Project
From the prairie grasslands, deciduous woodlands to the coniferous forests, Minnesota once had a grand mix of all three that no other state possessed. The prairie lands are practically gone due to the farm plow. The dense canopy of arboreal splendor was largely lost due to the logging of the past.
Most of the guidelines established by the Minnesota DNR have been to protect the remaining old growth forest lands.
A 1994 study estimated that old-growth forest grew on just 3.9% of Minnesota’s timberland, whereas it made up 51% of Minnesota’s forests in 1850.
The remnants of the plant life that once covered 51% of the state’s forested regions, and their harvest delivered immense wealth to individuals, speculators, corporations and the government, speeding the development of the state’s early economy.
While living and working in Bemidji, I would venture to the “Lost 40,” preserved due to a surveying error. It is one of the last big stands of white and red pine left. I also visited Little Falls to see a 50-acre patch of land within the city limits known as the Primeval Forest, donated by Weyerhaeuser Company in 1913, because they feared that someday old growth of this type would no longer exist. They were right, and they had the logging company to prove it. To think that all the lands surrounding Little Falls once appeared like what is seen in this small plot demands that our state owned lands be returned to their original state of being.
We need legislation mandating all state lands be restored to 51% old growth and to encourage old growth preservation on private lands. As state lands are logged they should be replanted with old growth species. I’d like to see the state purchase farmland to create a continuous area of old growth prairie stretching the state as well.
After 200 years we should arrive at 51% old growth. It’s not too much to ask that we restore a fraction of the natural heritage our state once enjoyed. Let’s restore our natural heritage.
The terrestrial biomes of Minnesota, prior to European settlement. Tallgrass aspen parkland/prairie grasslands in yellow, eastern deciduous forest in olive green, and the northern coniferous forest in dark green.