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Letter: Forestry Center status still a secret

As a former director, I have often been asked about the status of the Cloquet Forestry Center.

I am not in the loop but did recently receive a copy of the University of Minnesota’s annual report, “View of the Woods,” which includes information on the forestry center.

The following is taken from that report: “A focused working group of Fond du Lac and U of M representatives have been diving deeper into the details of possible collaborative research and outreach opportunities as we look into the future. This technical working group has been charged with compiling information related to the U of M’s current and potential future activities at the Cloquet Forestry Center, details which will help all involved to develop a memorandum of understanding or other agreement related to potential U of M land uses as ownership and management of the land is transferred to the Fond du Lac Band. This information will also provide helpful background information for a public comment period and for additional discussions with state officials about returning the land.

“U of M representatives working in this group include faculty, researchers and leadership from the U of M Department of Forest Resources, the Cloquet Forestry Center and the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. Karen Diver, the U of M’s senior advisor to the president on Native American affairs, has and will continue to provide the group with guidance and expert counsel.

“We remain committed to an open and transparent process as we examine the future of this land. We will hold an official comment period once there is a plan in place for transferring ownership of the land, which we expect this coming winter (2024).”

I have no firsthand knowledge of what the final document will contain.

Unfortunately — unlike what the above paragraphs say — the process to date has been anything but open and transparent. No CFC alumni or former college leaders are in the working group, nor have they been provided with any information related to the process or the outcome. I believe people who have been intimately involved with the CFC for many years may have information that might be useful.

Al Alm, Cloquet

Professor emeritus and former staff member and director of the Cloquet Forestry Center for more than 30 years

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