Magazine article American Forests

Justin Hynicka, Manager of Forest Conservation

Magazine article American Forests

Justin Hynicka, Manager of Forest Conservation

Article excerpt

WORKING AT AMERICAN FORESTS, I did not expect to find myself here: It is dark, loud, and although it smells like pine, the scent is stronger than I have ever experienced before. Yet, here I am with five IKEA iWitness Ambassadors touring the Potlatch Sawmill near Bemidji, Minn., on a series of stops designed to provide a holistic experience of forests from tree planting to maturity and the challenges they face along the way.

Our group is in northern Minnesota to help restore part of Chippewa National Forest. The forest was damaged by an intense storm in 2012 that snapped and uprooted mature conifer trees across 95,000 acres. We have to use our imaginations to picture what it must have looked like following the storm because the most difficult work--removing the fallen trees--has already been completed. The site is nearly barren--ideal conditions for white spruce seedlings--beckoning us to give it new life and accelerate the natural process of forest succession.

After planting, we head north to a different location to learn about the impacts of the emerald ash borer (EAB). Donning knee-high boots, our group enters a swamp, carefully stepping on clumps of grass and sedge so we don't sink into the amber water. …

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