Posted by: ericgrimsrud | October 28, 2013

Saving the Great North Woods

After I retired from full-time employment, I immediately recognized that I needed a “hobby” that would fill my days with meaningful activities.  Therefore, I often joke that “saving the planet” seemed like a good one for me.  Clearly someone has to do it, right?  So I have tried, at least, to lend support to that endeavor.

This post concerns the similar and far more real efforts being made in that direction by one of my relatives, brother-in-law Jack Rajala of Grand Rapids, Minnesota.  As an introduction to Jack and his current activities, please read the article referenced below that recently appeared in the Minneapolis Star and Tribune.

Jack is the grandson of a Finnish immigrant, Ivar Rajala, who began logging in northern Minnesota in the early 20th Century.  In 1942, three of Ivar’s seven sons developed one of Minnesota’s most complete sawmilling operations in Bigfork Minnesota.  One of them, Art Rajala, was Jack’s father.  Growing up in that environment and then spending almost all of his subsequent life working in the continuously evolving forest products industries, Jack has had a ring side seat to forest management over his 74 years of living and working within them.  Since the very beginning, one of Rajala operations has been to ensure healthy and sustainable forests.  In additon to caring for their own forest lands, the company has provided counsel to private and public land managers.

You will note in the article referred to above Jack’s particular focus on the White Pine, a majestic tree that might turn out to be well-suited to the warmer climates expected ahead.  Ironically, the White Pine was once the dominant species of the North Woods of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, but was reduced by early logging practices to about one percent of its previous abundance.  In the latter portion of his life, Jack has probably done more than any other single human being in  “Bringing Back the White Pine” and, for those interested in learning more about this quest, Jack has written a book bearing that title.

Enough said here – but please do read the article referred to above for the full story concerning the plight of our  pine forests in the North Woods of Minnesota.  Having spent many summer vacations “Up North” myself in Minnesota, I also have a strong personal interest in preserving them for future generations.  In fact, Kathy and I recently purchased a summer cabin on a small lake north of Grand Rapids by which we hope to expose our now young grandchildren to that invigorating region of their planet just as we previously did for all four of our own children.  There is no better place for an extended family to get together and with Jack’s help, we will all try to learn more about preserving it.

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