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Public listening session on Cloquet Forestry Center's future set for Feb. 13

A snowy road winds through a forest in Itasca County. The trees are mostly bare-branched and have a light dusting of snow.
Lorie Shaull
A snowy road winds through a forest in Itasca County.

The session will be an opportunity for people to comment on the University of Minnesota's plans to return the land to the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

CLOQUET — The University of Minnesota is hosting a public listening session about the future of the Cloquet Forestry Center next week.

The university’s plans to return the 3,400-acre center to the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa were first reported a year ago, though the idea stemmed from earlier discussions between then-University-president Joan Gabels and Minnesota’s tribal nations. A public listening session was one of the commitments made by the Board of Regents a year ago.

The session is scheduled for 3-4:30 p.m. Feb. 13 at the Cloquet Forestry Center. The University will hear public comments and provide updates on the process.

The center is wholly within the Fond du Lac Reservation. It is used for research, education and forest management projects and has been the university’s primary research forest since 1909.

Federal legislation in the late 1800s divided tribal land into private allotments. The Department of Interior assigned these private allotments to tribal members, who were expected to abandon communal living for independent farming.

The government then transferred unallotted land to logging companies, with the understanding that the U of M would receive the property once the timber was removed.

The university said returning the land is the right thing to do, and this is the right time to do it.

Megan Buffington joined the KAXE newsroom in 2024 after graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Originally from Pequot Lakes, she is passionate about educating and empowering communities through local reporting.