Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Vegatable Lakes Designation Can Be Changed

The following article appeared in the Cook County News-Herald, Thursday, July 28th, 2005 by Vicki Biggs-Anderson Editor/Publisher

Forest management plans are not forever. Revised every 10 years, plans can be, although rarely, subject to spot changes. Such is the case with the Cucumber/Vegetable Lakes area, reclassified as a semi-primitive non-motorized in the newly revised plan for the Superior National Forest. Gunflint Ranger Dennis Neitzke brought that fact to the attention of the Cook County Board of Commissioners when a number of people complained about being shut out of a favorite fishing area. The 1,081-acre tract within the county includes lakes commonly accessed by off-road vehicle users. Many of these people, along with most of the county commissioners and U.S. Representative James Oberstar, accuse Neitzke of sneaking the changed designation past them in the draft review process. Tempers have run so high that a bumper sticker reading “Dump Dennis. Save the Vegetables” was printed. Neitzke must, by law, enforce the non-motorized designation. However, local and state government do have a chance to reverse the designation. It’s not a sure thing, however, and it will take some time. In an interview at the Gunflint Ranger station in Grand Marais earlier this month, Neitzke said, “The complete inventory of Minnesota roadless areas under the 2005 roadless conservation rule will be fit within the forest plan unless the governor petitions the Sect. of Agriculture to change those designations.” The Veggie Lakes area is defined as a roadless area. “It’s local government’s and the governor’s decision whether or not to petition,” Neitzke said. Governor Tim Pawlenty has already charged the Minnesota Forest Resource Council with finding the basis for such a petition. The council has until Nov. 2006 to file with the U.S. Sect. of Agriculture. A final decision could be forthcoming within the year.

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