The Camp 8 Story
“The Camp 8 Stand: The Story of the Cloquet Forestry Center’s Old-Growth Red Pines,” by Clare Boerigter, weaves a compelling narrative about the unique ecology, history and cultural significance of a 44-acre stand of 200+ year-old red pines on the CFC. Drawing on archival and contemporary research, in-depth interviews with local foresters and community members, and video footage, images and descriptions of the stand, Boerigter’s multimedia article tells the story of these red pines while underscoring the powerful relationships which visitors, community members and CFC staff have developed with these ancient trees. These relationships, as well as the stand’s historical, ecological and cultural significance, are set against the backdrop of an undeniable reality: today, Camp 8’s red pines have begun to die, with fire exclusion and climate change advantaging a number of other species over a new generation of red pines. Once Camp 8’s old-growth red pines have gone, and with young red pines increasingly out-competed, what will replace them? Will these trees, and their important ecological legacy on the landscape, be lost forever?
Boerigter's article explores these questions, and more. Seeking to recognize and illuminate the historical role of the Great Lakes Ojibwe in shaping many quintessential Minnesota landscapes, Boerigter underscores the important role of Indigenous fire in shaping the character of the Camp 8 Stand. Cultural fires were lit across the Great Lakes region by area Ojibwe for an array of purposes, a historical truth still often underappreciated today. Recognizing the significance of this, Boerigter advocates for a return of eco-cultural prescribed fire to the Camp 8 Stand, proposing increased engagement and collaboration with the CFC’s closest neighbors, the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, on whose reservation the CFC resides.
In telling the story of the Cloquet Forestry Center’s old-growth red pines, Boerigter asks us to engage with complex questions of land management in the era of the Anthropocene, historical – yet often overlooked – truths about land tenure, and the role that we – whether as scientists, foresters or engaged citizens – will take as land stewards as we watch ecosystems change around us. Do we attempt to restore historical conditions to a place like Camp 8? Or do we let this storied place disappear?