You have to know the human history of this park to fully appreciate these big woods. What remains is part of a presettlement hardwood forest that covered more than 5,000 acres hundreds of years ago. When pioneers settled here in the mid-1800s, they had the foresight to set up a small series of wooded lots that would remain unlogged.
Theirs was a conservation effort based on utility—they wanted to make sure they had a sustainable supply of firewood as the woodlands fell to the clearing ax for farmland. These plots were marked out in what is now the center of Nerstrand–Big Woods State Park. Created in the 1940s, this park preserved 1,280 acres of those wooded lots.
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