Big Island and the Rollie Johnson Natural and Recreational Area
Rollie Johnson Natural and Recreational Area / Big Island on the Whitefish Chain: A rare surviving example of an undisturbed old-growth maple-basswood forest. Trees 150 years old tower up to 100 feet above the forest floor, sheltering a rich assortment of flowering plants unusual this far north in Minnesota. The butternut tree found here is the northwesterly-most record for this species. If the island escapes catastrophic intrusion, such as fire, tornado or human impact, this remarkable plant community may prosper for hundreds of years. The undisturbed, natural character of Big Island attracts scientists and ecologists who study forest processes and natural systems. Information gained from this unusual setting can be used to form ecological blueprints useful in creating and maintaining Minnesota's valuable resources for future generations.