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The Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood Forest

The best times to visit RJD Memorial Hardwood Forest?
Come in the early spring when spring flowers bloom and return in the autumn for the fall colors.

Memorial Forest Map

Kellogg/Weaver Dunes SNA

Kruger Campground & Management Unit

McCarthy Lake SNA

Snake Creek OHV Trail

Zumbro Falls Woods SNA

Zumbro Bottoms Horse Campground - Central

Zumbro Bottoms Horse Campground - North

Zumbro Bottoms Horse Campground - West

Zumbro River Water Trail



Fifty years ago, the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest was created--- thanks to the efforts of Richard J. Dorer, Willis Kruger, Phillip Nordeen, George Meyer, Ed Franey and countless supporters of the Izaak Walton League.  

Today the forest covers 1,016,204 acre in Dakota, Fillmore, Goodhue, Olmsted, Houston, Wabasha, and Winona Counties. The land along the bluffs of the Great River Road of the Mississippi River and much of the watersheds of the Cannon, Whitewater, Root, Zumbro, and Vermillion Rivers are within the forest's boundaries.

Early efforts: The Minnesota Legislature had established the Whitewater Management Area in 1931, however focusing on the Whitewater alone did not meet conservation goals.   Richard J. Dorer, who was working for what would become the Department of Natural Resources, helped to establish the Whitewater's boundaries and lobbied for funds to buy 38,000 acres.  

Lobbying for the Forest: Efforts to protect the hardwood forests in southeastern Minnesota began in 1948 when the Izaac Walton League began the push for a state forest. By 1949, many County Boards had endorsed the effort. By 1958, Dorer was joined in his lobbying efforts by Willis Kruger, Wabasha County game warden; Phillip Nordeen, Goodhue County game warden; George Meyer, Whitewater refuge manager; and Ed Franey, Minneapolis conservation writer. Together they worked with the Izaak Walton League to develop a prospectus for the acquisition of land after Dorer's first plan was rejected as too visionary and costly by the Minnesota Legislature. The prospectus, which was endorsed by the League, was transformed into law and on March 17, 1960, George A. Selke, then Commissioner of Conservation, announced plans to create a Minnesota Memorial Hardwood Forest. The officiation dedication occured in 1961. The forest was renamed to honor Richard J. Dorer in 1974.

The Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood Forest is unique because the state does not own most of the land. It includes the bluffs of the Great River Road that runs alongside the Mississippi River, and a number state water trails on the Cannon, Whitewater, Root,Zumbro and Vermilion Rivers.

There are six recreational areas, seven campgrounds, and one day use area.


Explore The Zumbro is a collaboration of cities, businesses and organizations that are in or near the Zumbro River Valley in eastern Goodhue and Wabasha Counties in southeastern Minnesota..
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