Forestry in the North Star State
Photo: Scenic recreational trail through one of Minnesota’s state forests
Minnesota is among the top twenty forested states by acreage in the nation. The state is located at the convergence of three major biomes; coniferous forests, deciduous forest and tall-grass prairies. Over one-third of Minnesota is forested, and more than 12,000 lakes, rivers and streams grace the landscape.
Prior to continuous European settlement around 1850, approximately 31.6 million acres of land (46%) in the state was forested. Land clearing through logging and burning for agriculture and settlement in the late 1800s resulted in the loss of about half of the state’s pre-settlement forests. Forest lands recovered somewhat over the next 60 years, dropped again between the 1950’s and 1970s, but have remained relatively stable over the past 30 years.
Minnesota's Division of Forestry manages 4.2 million acres of state-owned forest land for multiple values including wildlife habitat, biological diversity, and water quality. The Division works to protect people, property, and natural resources from wildfire on 45.5 million acres of land in Minnesota. The forest lands the state administers provide Minnesotans with outdoor recreation opportunities and support Minnesota’s forest products industry by supplying approximately 30 percent of the wood fiber used in the state. These lands also provide income for the permanent school trust fund through the sale of state timber.