State Forests

Huntersville State Forest


Forest Landscape: Huntersville State Forest is located in the coniferous forest biome, which means the plants and animals living within it are adapted to lower average annual temperatures and a shorter growing season than those in other parts of Minnesota. The topography is a mix of end moraines, outwash plains, till plains, and drumlin fields. The moraine-derived sand and sandy-loam soils are predominantly coarse to moderately coarse. Historically, fires moved through forests every 10 to 40 years, which accounts for the dominance by conifers growing in upland areas and quaking aspen and birch forests in other areas.

Management Activities: Minnesota's state forests are managed to produce timber and other forest crops, provide outdoor recreation, protect watersheds, perpetuate wildlife, and perpetuate rare and distinctive species of flora and fauna. The DNR manages lands for tourism and to sustainably allocate renewable forest resources to Minnesota citizens while maintaining and improving forest health. Management activities in state forests include commercial harvest of mature trees for lumber, pulp, and other products. Planned harvests allow young, vigorous trees to grow, which also provides more food for wildlife. Firewood sales permit the removal of poor quality, diseased, dead, and damaged trees for heating homes. The Huntersville State Forest is managed for fire-dependent jack pine and aspen, along with red and white pine. Cutting and site preparation have greatly increased wildlife habitat by creating more openings and by producing sprouts that provide food and cover for a variety of species. Loggers carefully select timber for removal while planning for natural regeneration and replanting so the forest is most productive. Two state wildlife management areas (WMAs) are located within the state forest borders—the Huntersville and Burgeon Lake Prairie WMAs. WMAs, administered by the Division of Fish and Wildlife, are part of Minnesota's outdoor recreation system and are established to protect lands and waters that have a high potential for wildlife production, public hunting, trapping, fishing, and other compatible recreational uses. They are the backbone to DNR's wildlife management in Minnesota and are key to:

  • protecting wildlife habitat for future generations
  • providing citizens with opportunities for hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching
  • promoting important wildlife-based tourism in the state.

History: Huntersville State Forest encompasses 33,963 acres. DNR Forestry administers 14,172 acres. The rest of the land is private. Before European settlers occupied the Crow Wing River area, Dakota and Ojibwe Indians lived there. In the early 1700s, French fur traders entered the Crow Wing River region and controlled the fur business until British and Canadian traders came to dominate the trade in the 1760s. Between the 1870s and the early 1900s logging was the chief economy of Wadena County. Logging the dense forests along the Crow Wing River and its tributaries furnished work for hundreds of early settlers and provided an economic base for many towns and villages in the area. Shell City was established in 1879 as a lumber camp, although it and the Shell River were named for another important resource, clams, which were used in button factories in the city. This city also was the headquarters of the Shell City Navigation Company, incorporated April 10, 1884. The company was formed to operate steamboats and barges on the Shell and Crow Wing rivers from Shell City to the Mississippi River. Lumbering operations expanded as railroads were extended throughout the Crow Wing area. By the turn of the century, however, most virgin timber had been cleared and the lumber industry declined sharply. Shell City, a town that relied heavily on the timber trade, was eventually abandoned. The region's economy soon came to depend on agriculture. Today, recreationists still use the roads created by the early loggers.

Acres: 33,963

Year Estab: 1963


Rare Species Guide:


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