How Environment Has Shaped the State

From Sustenance to Leisure on Minnesota Land

Expert Essay: Associate professor of history Michael J. Lansing, published in Environmental History as well as Ethics, Place, and Environment, highlights the many ways people have made use of Minnesota's flora and fauna over time and reviews the state's more recent efforts at conservation.

Black and white photograph of the Ranger Residence at the Marcell Ranger Station, 1940.

Ranger's Dwelling at Marcell Ranger Station

The Ranger Residence at the Marcell Ranger Station, 1940.

Black and white photograph of the Marcell Ranger Station, c.1994.

Marcell Ranger Station

The Marcell Ranger Station, c.1994.

Marcell Ranger Station

Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) between 1934 and 1935, the Marcell Ranger Station exemplifies the core principles of the National Park Service's architectural philosophy: minimalist construction and use of native materials.

Map of Morrison County, c.1874.

Map of Morrison County

Detail view of a map reproduced in Alfred Andreas's An Illustrated Historical Atlas of the State of Minnesota. Chicago: A.T. Andreas, 1874. The map shows the location of the Belle Prairie Mission relative to Fort Ripley and Little Falls.

Drawing of Mackinac Island, c.1860.

Mackinac Island

Drawing of Mackinac Island reproduced in William Peter Strickland's Old Mackinaw: The Fortress of the Lakes. Philadelphia: James Challen & Son, 1860.

Landscape watercolor on paper by Edwin Whitefield painted, c.1856–1859.

One mile above Shakopee looking over the valley of the Minnesota River

Landscape watercolor on paper by Edwin Whitefield painted, c.1856–1859.

Black and white photograph of former squatters and lumberjacks from the Beltrami Island area in Northern Minnesota, 1939.

Former squatters and lumberjacks from the Beltrami Island area in Northern Minnesota

Former squatters and lumberjacks from the Beltrami Island area in Northern Minnesota. When the land was bought up by the government, this home-Northern Minnesota Pioneers' Home-was established. All these men are over seventy." Photographed by John Vachon for the Farm Security Administration in 1939.

Black and white photograph of Mrs. Cornelius and son standing by their log house, homesteaded in 1912.

Mrs. Cornelius and son standing by their log house, homesteaded in 1912

Mrs. Cornelius and son standing by their log house, homesteaded in 1912.They will be resettled. Beltrami Island reforestation project, Minnesota. Photographed by Paul Carter for the Farm Security Administration in 1936.

Beltrami Island Project

The Beltrami Island Project was a pioneering land program of the New Deal enacted across hundreds of thousands of acres in northern Minnesota. Federal and state governments worked side by side to move residents off of poor farmland as well as to restore forest across areas of the cutover region.

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