State Forests

Paul Bunyan State Forest


Forest Landscape: Many tiny ponds and bogs are interspersed among the hills on this rough land. Severe successive fires between 1913 and 1926 wiped out most pine regeneration, which led to the establishment of aspen. Today the forest is 82 percent aspen, 10 percent red and white pine with some jack pine, and 8 percent other hardwood species such as oak, maple, and ash.

Management Activities: Over the years, the Minnesota Legislature enlarged the original forest reserve of nearly 30,000 acres to its present size of 150,113 acres. Most of the land, 85,000 acres, is managed by the DNR and Hubbard County. Paul Bunyan State Forest one time supported white pine that was second to none in the region. DNR foresters have worked hard to advance white pine regeneration in the area. For example, over the past 20 years, mature aspen has been harvested on 1,940 acres of the forest that contained white pine seedlings and saplings. This "released" the young white pine so they could grow in full sunlight. This successful and unique management activity is planned for another 870 of the forest's acres in the next decade. Paul Bunyan State Forest contains 304 acres of white pine, 137 acres of red pine, 53 acres of oak, 43 acres of northern hardwoods, and 27 acres of black ash that are designated old growth and protected from harvesting.

History: Millions of board feet of white and red pine were cut from the forest in the early 1900s. The Red River Lumber Company had purchased most of the land and timber and constructed a sawmill in 1898 on Eleventh Crow Wing Lake at what is now the city of Akeley. At first the company had four to five logging camps, but after 1908, it had eight to 10 camps with 4,000 to 5,000 men on the payroll. A logging railroad, started in 1902, extended to Lake Alice Township within a quarter-mile of Itasca State Park by 1915. Many of the present forest roads are old logging railroad beds, such as Spur I and the Gulch Lake Forest Trail. In 1915 the Red River Logging Company moved its operations to California. Small operators with portable sawmills came into the territory and cut the remainder of the merchantable timber, leaving the area by 1920. The logging days of Hubbard County had lasted 20 years.

Acres: 150,113

Year Estab: 1935


Rare Species Guide:


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