BEMIDJI (AP) - A July 2012 blowdown that toppled trees at Itasca State Park is giving officials a chance to accelerate plans to reforest 500 acres in one of Minnesota's most popular parks.

The stands of old-growth red and white pines, some dating back 250 years, are a major reason why the park exists. The park contains 25 percent of the state's old-growth pines.

The blowdown severely damaged 600 state-managed acres, including 270 acres at a recreation area north of the park.

But resource specialist Chris Gronewold says park officials see it as an opportunity. They've accelerated plans to reforest 500 acres in 10 years. Next year an additional 65 acres in the park will be replanted with pines as part of a 10-year plan.