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
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.
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.