State Forests

Nemadji State Forest


Forest Landscape: The terrain in the forest varies from gently rolling upland with large swamp areas in the south to steep stream valleys and elongated swamps protruding into the forest in the northeast. The soils vary from sand to sandy loam to red clay and organic peat. Numerous small streams meander through the forest, and beaver ponds dot the landscape. The northern third of the forest drains into the Lake Superior Basin–Nemadji River Watershed, while the southern two-thirds are in the St. Croix River Basin.

Management Activities: Timber harvesting, reforestation, wildlife habitat improvement, recreational development, and environmental protection occur in the forest. Various zones within the forest are managed for different purposes. Recreation and environmental protection are major objectives along the rivers and trails.

History: In the 1800s, logging was the main occupation for the settlers who located in the area of the forest. The Nemadji, Willow, and Tamarack rivers transported pine logs to sawmills as far away as Stillwater, Minnesota, and Superior, Wisconsin. Later, the area in Minnesota between Nickerson and Holyoke was crisscrossed with temporary railroads to supply a large sawmill on Delong Lake, southeast of Nickerson. As the pine was depleted, smaller logging camps produced railroad ties, cedar shingles, barrel staves, pulpwood, and fuelwood. A few hardy settlers moved into the area to farm, and numerous large fires burned through the cutover lands. The forest's name comes from the Nemadji River Watershed, in which it is located. American Indians called the river "Ne-madji-tri-guay-och," meaning left hand, which refers to its location on the left of Lake Superior's St. Louis Bay. Most of the land in the forest was forfeited early in the 1900s for nonpayment of taxes. Over the years, the Minnesota Legislature enlarged the original forest reserve to its present size of 96,270 acres. The DNR manages nearly 94 percent of the area, with the remaining 6 percent of the land within forest boundaries privately owned.

Acres: 92,926

Year Estab: 1935


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