Tree-mendous harvestIn September, the landscape of the land saw a great change when the hundreds of trees were harvested and shipped to Verso, a paper mill in Sartell.
By: Celeste Beam, Alexandria Echo Press
Along County Road 12, a lit-tle more than four miles out of Garfield, stood hundreds of trees as far as the eye could see.
Positioned about every eight feet, the hybrid poplar trees were planted about 14 years ago. There were about 750 trees per acre – and there are about 83 acres.
In September, the landscape of the land saw a great change when the hundreds of trees were harvested and shipped to Verso, a paper mill in Sartell.
The land, which has been in the John Erickson family for more than 100 years, is now owned by Charles “Charlie” and Sandy Erickson, who reside in Lindstrom. John Erickson, Charlie’s grandfather, homesteaded the land in 1870.
Sandy noted that Charlie inherited the land and property – about 182 acres – from two of his uncles. She said that just this year, her husband put the land in a trust with the state so that it can’t be developed.
Although Charlie’s family lived in the Garfield area, he has lived in Lindstrom for many years and was a teacher in Lindstrom, St. Paul and Minneapolis.
Of interest, said Charlie, is that when his grandfather homesteaded the land, it was “loaded with trees,” but that his grandfather spent much of his life clearing the land and getting rid of the trees.
The land, which at one time was used for farming corn, oats and wheat, along with various animals, is now, many years later, used as a tree plantation.
The harvesting process takes about two weeks, said Charlie, explaining that all of it is done using different pieces of equipment.
One machine chops the trees down, while another will gather them up and bring them to a different spot and a different machine. That ma-chine strips the trees down, eliminating the branches and leaves, leaving what looks like a giant toothpick.
From there, the trees are sawed in half and stacked neatly in a pile, ready to be picked up by another machine, put in a truck and hauled away to the paper mill.
Now that the trees are gone, Sandy noted that she plans on taking several of the tree stubs to make a garden wall at their house in Lindstrom.
Charlie said there are options as far as what happens to the land. A different type of machine can come and remove all the tree stumps that are left and they can start fresh with new trees. He can let them grow from the stump, or coppice, as he called it. Or, he can kill everything – the trees and any weeds around them – and plant be-tween the stumps.
For now, Charlie said he is going to see if he can get the paper company to lease the land from him.
“I’m just not sure what is go-ing to happen just yet,” he said. “But I’m sure it’s going to be something.”