MINNESOTA—Chippewa National Forest retiree Gary Roerick was presented with the 2019 Outstanding Forest Steward Award by the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts and Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry at the organization’s annual convention in December.
Roerick worked on the Chippewa National Forest for 34 years. As a Forest Service employee there, he was part of the planting of up to a million trees every spring using machine planters and also led young adults that were employed through the Young Adult Conservation Corps and the Youth Conservation Corps in planting thousands of trees by hand.
Roerick’s interest in forestry began as a young adult. He was the president of the Natural Resources Club his senior year of college and in charge of a planting crew during his junior and senior years in the Brainerd area. A resident of Hubbard County for the past 41 years, Roerick has been planting up to 1,000 seedlings from a variety of species on his property almost every year.
Roerick has been on the advisory council at the Central Lakes College in Brainerd for more than 10 years. There, he actively works with the natural resources program to share his Forest Service conservation knowledge as well as advocate for the latest and greatest technological and educational tools available for the students.
Roerick has two active forest stewardship plans involving more than 700 acres. He has worked with the Minnesota Land Trust to enroll one of his parcels into a conservation easement and is currently on the advisory board for the Mississippi River Headwaters “One Watershed, One Plan.” He has been working with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and MASWCD to find areas on his land to add watering ponds for wildlife as well as trying to restore native wetland areas in Minnesota.