NASF Photo Fellowship: St. Croix State Forest and Cloverdale Forest Landowners

By Leslie Robertson
NASF Photo Fellow

I woke up early on Thursday and headed to St. Croix State Forest.

St. Croix suffered from a blowdown on July 1, 2011. Although I could see parts that were still suffering from those injuries to the trees and land, I could still see a lot of life and recovery happening. The campsite area included nice vistas and water access, and is something I hope to return to with a tent someday.

After a morning of driving through St. Croix State Forest on my own, I met with Tony Miller, a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) forester. I followed him to the Nelson family property in Askov, where we looked around a bit before they arrived. I asked Tony about his background and learned that he had both bachelors and masters degrees in forestry.

Tony was a little quiet at first, which I have found to be the case with many foresters whom I have met so far, but once we started talking about forests he was truly a wealth of knowledge and his enthusiasm was nothing short of impressive.

Once the Nelsons arrived, I was able to get some shots of Tony explaining the plan he had drawn up for Gerry Nelson and his wife, Linda. The Nelsons are multi-generational landowners, and I was able to speak to Gerry and Linda while we walked their land.

Gerry told me that owning land like this was always a dream of his, and that he enjoys spending time on the land connecting with his family while staying in their rustic cabin and going hunting. It was so wonderful hearing how he was able to use forests and the outdoors as a way to build close relationships and traditions, and that it has been such an influential aspect of his life from an early age, another theme I have been finding in Minnesota.

Tony and I drove to meet John Anderson, another tree farmer a little ways away. John was in the process of getting a bid from a logging company for a portion of his land and turned to Tony for a second opinion before signing a contract.

We walked through the forest and Tony did a quick update of the area that he had been to around 15 years before. I followed along, snapping pictures and catching bits of their conversation. John and Tony noticed things that I would have walked right past, which made with wish I had more knowledge of the complex ecosystem that is only slightly familiar to a born and bred Chicagoan.

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