Chippewa National Forest

Chippewa National Forest is a national forest located in northcentral Minnesota, United States, in the counties of Cass, Itasca, and Beltrami. The forest headquarters are located in Cass Lake, Minnesota. There are local ranger district offices in Deer River, Walker, and Blackduck.

The forest encompasses 666,623 acres. Water is plentiful, with over 1,300 lakes, 923 miles of streams and rivers, and 400,000 acres of wetlands.

The forest was established as the Minnesota Forest Reserve on June 27th, of 1902 with the passage of Morris Act. While this act mostly addressed the disposition of unallotted lands on Ojibwe Indian reservations in Minnesota, 200,000 acres of the Chippewas of the Mississippi, Leech Lake, Cass Lake, and Winnibigoshish Indian Reservation were designated as a Forest Reserve.

The reserve was re-established as the Minnesota National Forest on May 23rd of 1908. In 1928, the forest was renamed honoring the Chippewa Indians from whose land the forest was created on. Consequent boundary expansions and land purchases increased the area of the forest to its current size. Today, about 75 percent of the forests land is within the Leech Lake Indian Reservation.

Tree species such as pine, balsam fir, aspen, birch, and maple can be found within the confines of the forest. Old growth forest such as the Lost Forty section of the CNF is valuable for the wildlife, including the bald eagle, several species of hawk and woodpecker, red squirrel, weasel, and a number of other species.

The forest includes an area known as the “Lost Forty”. This area, which has a total of 144 acres, was accidentally mapped as a part of Coddington Lake when the original maps of the region were laid out in 1882. Because of the mapping error, the Lost Forty was never logged.

The forest contains some of the oldest forest in the state, with some trees more than 350 years old. Less than 2 percent of Minnesota’s total forested land is such old growth forest. These special traits offer plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities throughout the year.

Image Caption: Mississippi Meadows / Deer River fire in 2005 in Chippewa National Forest. Credit: Chippewa National Forest/Wikipedia