Rick Horton

Kimball’s Logging Named 2021 Minnesota Logger of the Year

(June 16, 2021) – Kimball’s Logging of Park Rapids has been named the 2021 Minnesota Logger of the Year by the Minnesota Sustainable Forestry Initiative(r) Implementation Committee (MN SIC).

The award was presented to Kelly and Justin Kimball at the Minnesota Logger Education Program (MLEP) workshop held in Bemidji earlier this month.

The Logger of the Year Award recognizes outstanding independent logging contractor performance with the purpose of honoring Minnesota’s competent professional independent logging contractors. The formal nomination notes that Kimball’s logging operations are testimony to what a modern-day business focused on timberland management can successfully be. The family-owned enterprise supplies wood fiber to Minnesota’s forest products economy, while at the same time harvesting trees in an environmentally sensitive manner.

“Kimball’s Logging is a shining example of the outstanding work Minnesota’s loggers perform in managing our state’s forests and keeping them healthy,” said MN SIC chair Quintin Legler of UPM Blandin Paper Mill. “Not only are Kimball’s standards above the norm, but Kelly Kimball has been heavily involved with several professional programs and associations that help both his, and his fellow logging businesses meet the challenging demands of the logging profession.”

Private landowner Bob Cavanagh of Becker County hired Kimball’s Logging to harvest 1700 cords of timber from his family’s property, and wrote in support of the company’s nomination for the Logger of the Year award.

“They were prompt, fair, communicative, showed respect for our land, and left it in good condition when they were finished,” Cavanagh wrote. “Kimball’s crew was friendly and flexible as well, and it was clear that they worked together like a well-oiled machine.”

Like many of the state’s loggers, Kelly Kimball learned the business from his father, who learned it from his father before him. What is unique about the Kimballs is they can trace their family’s history in the logging/sawmill business back to the first settlers from Europe, nearly 400 years ago.

“The first Kimballs came over from England in 1634,” Justin says. “They started in Massachusetts back then making wagon wheels.”

The Kimball family spread out from there, from Massachusetts, north to Maine, and gradually west to Wisconsin and Minnesota. Kelly’s family logged in the winter and ran a sawmill during the summer months. Before he even graduated from Park Rapids High School, Kelly had gone into business with his two brothers. Today, Kelly operates Kimball’s Logging with sons Zach and Justin.

Kelly Kimball has served in several leadership capacities in the state’s logging community. He is currently Vice President of the Timber Producers Association, and is a former president of the Minnesota Logger Education Program board of direectors. Kimball has also served on his township’s board of commissioners.

“I’ve worked with Kelly off and on for the last 20 years or so,” wrote forest Stan Grossman of Itasca Woodland Services, who nominated Kimball for the state award. “I’ve seen him constantly improving his technique, equipment, and approach during this time. They take great care to follow the harvest prescriptions and avoid unnecessary damage to residual trees. They truly care about doing a great job for landowners. Forestry and forest management runs deep in the Kimball family. Doing what is best for the site is what Kelly strives for.”

The Minnesota SIC includes representatives from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Forest Industries, the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota Logger Education Program, Minnesota Timber Producers Association, Minnesota Tree Farm Program, Society of American Foresters, American Bird Conservancy, and SFI-certified county land departments.


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(L-R): Minnesota SIC Vice Chair Dick Moore, and Kelly and Justin Kimball of Kimball’s Logging, Minnesota’s 2021 Logger of the Year.