The Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest
Minnesota’s forests cover almost one-third of its total land area. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Forestry Division, maintains 58 forests covering over four million acres of land. Minnesota's state forests were established to produce timber, provide for outdoor recreation, and to protect watersheds and rare and distinctive species (1 Minnesota 1965). State forests are managed sustainably to guarantee that they remain healthy and productive. State forests are managed with an "ecosystem-based" approach, or through coarse filtering. Because forests can represent a type of ecosystem, for example, Minnesota has many forest ecosystems ranging from aspen parkland to oak savanna, coarse filtering is considered to be the best approach for not only the protection of tree species, but for all forest species. For the DNR, it also means working with local public and private organizations, as state forest land is not always state owned and some does not fall under the jurisdiction of the DNR’s forestry division. The DNR works closely with land owners through easements. An easement is an agreement between landowners and the DNR. The landowner is compensated for returning land to its natural state. The DNR then helps in the management of the land, such as deciding natural state and where to go from there. Easement programs are a great way for landowners to become involved in local conservation efforts.
the state forest system has made human access a priority. Camping,
hiking, horseback riding, cross country skiing, hunting, and fishing
easily accessible within state forest lands.
and wildlife viewing are also strongly encouraged (Minnesota DNR 2004).
The Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest covers two million acres of land in southeast Minnesota. The forest is located in seven counties: Dakota, Fillmore, Goodhue, Olmsted, Houston, Wabasha, and Winona. It protects the land along the bluffs of the Great River Road of the Mississippi River and also contains much of the watersheds of the Cannon, Root, Zumbro, and Vermillion Rivers.
The Memorial Hardwood State Forest was created in 1961 as a memorial to the state’s pioneers and veterans. In addition to the recreational and aesthetic opportunities of all state forests, the founders of the RJD forest set out additional goals. Improved wildlife habitat, prevention of erosion, and the stability of streams and timber productions were set out as specific conservation goals for the forest. The Izaac Walton League began the push for a state forest in the area in 1948. They were soon joined by the County Boards of many of the counties involved in 1949 and then by the Commissioner of Conservation in 1960 (1 Minnesota 1965). Richard J. Dorer, who worked for the Minnesota Department of Conservation in 1938, was among the first to see a need to protect the quickly disappearing forests of southeast Minnesota. Initially, he helped to restore ponds and plant trees in the area. Because of his work, the forest was renamed in his honor in 1974 (Breining 2000).
The RJD Forest is unique in that the state does not own most of the land. In fact, the state only owns 45,000 acres out of the nearly two million acres covered by the forest. Strangely, not even all of the land is forested at present. Why this is exactly is not readily available at this time. The forest also represents what used to be forested land (Breining 2000). The RJD Forest is also the only forest where the use of mountain bike, horse, OHVs, and ATVs are restricted to designated trails only (Minnesota DNR).
to visit the RJD Forest are in early spring to view spring ephemerals
before mosquito season. Also, autumn is a
to see fall colors. The DNR lists the RJD forest as among the best
places in the state for fall color viewing, bird watching, motorized
trail riding, horseback riding, and mountain biking (Breining 2000).