NOKAY LAKE TOWNSHIP, MINN. – I’ve chronicled in these pages my family’s efforts to help our land in central Minnesota, bought by my grandparents in 1964, to recover from the effects of a tornado that hit in 1973. The twister wiped out massive white and red pines and oaks and left a barren moonscape. Aspen, the opportunist of northern forests, moved in and took over.
Five years ago, we partnered with Blandin Paper Co. in Grand Rapids to log off a few dozen acres, 40-year-old aspen being perfect for pulp. Before and after the logging, we planted white and red pines on the land and tried to keep the whitetail deer from eating them — often a losing battle.