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Local loggers harvest wood for Pinewood Derby cars

Park Rapids and Nevis Cub Scouts recently raced cars in the annual Pinewood Derby. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

The Pinewood Derby cars built and raced by generations of Cub Scouts around the world aren't made of metal or fiberglass; they're made, naturally, of pine. And soon Cub Scouts from the Voyageurs Area and Northern Lights Councils in northern Minnesota will be racing cars made from pine harvested right in their area, thanks to the generosity of professional loggers, lumber mills, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI, Inc.) and others.

Last week, Haverinen Brothers Logging of Menahga, a member of the Minnesota Logger Education Program (MLEP), harvested wood from Camp Wilderness, a Boy Scout-owned, certified tree farm near Park Rapids. That wood, certified under the SFI program, will then be made into 2,500 Pinewood Derby kits.

"The harvesting, transporting and milling of this SFI-certified wood are all being donated by Minnesota people and companies committed to helping educate Scouts about forest management activities and the types of products that can be provided by healthy forests," said Tim O'Hara, coordinator of the Minnesota SFI Implementation Committee. "This spring, Scouts will return to this area to replant seedlings, thus ensuring that another generation of Minnesotans will continue to enjoy the forest."

O'Hara said Pinewood Derby materials will be packaged into kits and labeled with the SFI label, which indicates that wood was grown and harvested in an environmentally friendly manner. He added that Cub Scouts will be encouraged to design their cars in a theme that represents responsible forest management and includes the SFI logo.

A big part of responsible forest management is the way trees are harvested, said David Chura, director of the Minnesota Logger Education Program.

"Haverinen Brothers Logging is one of more than 400 logging businesses in Minnesota who have gone through extensive MLEP training related to sustainable forest management, transportation, safety and business management," said Chura. "Their commitment ensures that Camp Wilderness and Minnesota's many other forests continue to be the best managed in the United States."

Andy Kietzman, Camp Wilderness Ranger and Forester, said Haverinen Brothers planned to harvest wood from 30 acres of Camp Wilderness, which will yield about 500 cords.

In addition to the contributions by Camp Wilderness and Haverinen Brothers, time, materials and other resources are being donated by A&C Lumber Products of Park Rapids; Norbord of Bemidji; and Wicks Wood Products, of Akeley.

"The Boy Scouts of America has a long history with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, including printing our monthly Boys' Life magazine on SFI chain-of-custody certified paper," said David Nolle, Voyageurs Area Council Scout Executive. "This Pinewood Derby project with SFI and the MLEP is just one more example of that commitment."

Travis Christopher, Northern Lights Council Scout Executive, added: "At its heart, the one-million-subscription Boys' Life is about the outdoors and about teaching our young readers to be good stewards of the outdoors. That's also what we teach in northern Minnesota, in part through the activities associated with our Pinewood Derby."

Additional information about SFI and the Minnesota Logger Education Program may be found at their respective websites at and