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Forest in shape of Minnesota: Oaks hoax? Nope – genuine pine shrine

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At first glance, it looks a bit fake, like a Photoshopped woodsy version of crop circles.

But Google Maps doesn't lie. Tucked into the forests of Park Township in Lake of the Woods County is a 23-acre stand of red pine trees in the shape of Minnesota.

Check it out for yourself:

Reddit users this week were buzzing about the image – and whether it could possibly be real – after someone posted an image of it.

Who pulled this off – liquored-up lumberjacks? Aliens?

No, it was inventive DNR forestry veteran Bill Lockner – in the late 1980s, way before Google Maps.

A timber sale of stagnated jack pine on the state-managed land was pending, so Lockner made it interesting. Without the benefit of GPS, Lockner surveyed out the Minnesota shape, using only rudimentary tools, a compass and hip chain, DNR spokeswoman Jennifer Teegarden told BringMeTheNews. This 1991 photo shows how the state-shaped area of land was logged off:

Subsequently, the land around it has been logged off, and new red pine trees were planted and have grown up in the Minnesota shape, Lake of the Woods County water and lands Director Josh Stromlund explained. The Minnesota-shaped stand – roughly 1,200 feet wide at the arrowhead and 1,350 feet tall – is well known by county residents, he said.

But why did Lockner do it, at a time before GPS images weren't widely available and few could truly appreciate it? Lockner, who still works for the DNR in the agency's Baudette office, hasn't yet been able to return BringMeTheNews' call.

At the time, he might have gotten into a wee bit of trouble with his managers, Stromlund said. "Supervisors didn't find the design funny," he said. "I believe it was deemed not an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars."

Perhaps not. But you gotta admit, it's cool-looking. We'll let you know if Lockner tells us his story ...

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