NASF Photo Fellowship: Timber Harvests in Paul Bunyan State Forest

By Leslie Robertson
NASF Photo Fellow

Today I met with Amy Kay and Laura from the Department of Natural Resources who explained the week to me and set me up with my Prius. I drove from St. Paul, MN three hours upstate to Paul Bunyan State Forest.

I met with a third generation tree harvester named James who was kind enough to show us how he worked.

He started at age 12 during the summers with his father and a chainsaw. The machine was quite amazing; James could guide the boom to grab specific trees while leaving others unharmed.

The chainsaw cut down the tree, then the bark was stripped and the trunk was cut into eight-foot lengths. He went through the forest systematically and left a cool sort of trail made of logs behind him. Since I had my hard hat on and I kept slipping on the wet ground, James offered me a ride back to the road which was fun!

I also worked with a forester named Mike today who was my guide through the forest. Although a little camera shy, he knew the area well which was good since the roads were so windy and the trees were so dense that you couldn’t see much past where you were going!

He seemed very passionate and was quick to point out what a great job James was doing with how he was working. He also showed me clear cuts (where all the trees are cleared, allowing for new growth to spring up later) and several other parts of the forest that he described as “good to see as a forester”, since they were sustainable and well-harvested.

The forest was mainly white and red pine, birch and aspen. It rained on and off throughout the day so we got most of our shots of the tree harvest but unfortunately did not see any recreational ATV or motorcycle riders. Hopefully we’ll be able to grab some shots of that another time. We did, however, see some pretty nice trails.

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