Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Gunflint Trail Reaches Accord With DNR Over Timber Sales

Grand Marais, MN- The Gunflint Trail Scenic Byways Committee voted to accept the Minnesota DNR's modified timber harvesting plans at this months byways' meeting held at the historic Swanson's Lodge on Hungry Jack Lake.

In picture Cook Country Commissionar, shakes hands over agreement with Doug Rowlett, DNR Area Forest Supervisor while Nancy Seaton, Byway Chairperson and Jim Raml, Forestry Sub-Committee Chair looks on.

According to James Raml, scenic byway forestry sub-committee chair, "at this point the DNR appears to have made a good faith effort to accommodate many offer concerns dealing with the issue of clearcutting along the scenic byway corridor while still meeting their perceived fiduciary responsibility to the school trust fund and wood fiber output objectives. Two of the seven cutting blocks within the sale under question were removed for lack of merchantability reasons due to the young age of one stand and the relatively low volume in another. Also, wording in the newly written sale would allow for a higher than normal amount of advanced young conifer regeneration to be maintained on site in the remaining five cutting blocks.In addition, a more diverse selection of older trees, including conifers, will be included in the standard six to twelve leave trees peracre as well as a few islands of diverse species concentrated in areas nearest the scenic byway right of way."

"The other major change" Raml continued, "within these sales is a clarification on the regeneration plan for the sites. Originally the plan would have allowed all but one of the sites to regenerate into aspen. The newly written plan calls for the planting and seeding ofappropriate mixes of pine, spruce and cedar on all cutting sites within the sale thus increasing within-stand diversity."

"While we recognize the need of timber management for ecological andeconomic reasons, we feel that these adjustments will better meet the scenic byway objectives of maintaining and enhancing age class and species diversity while increasing the component of longer lived conifers within the forests along the Gunflint Trail. In arriving at this accord we feel we have developed a good working relationship with the Minnesota DNR's Area Forest Supervisor Doug Rowlettand his staff," according to Raml.

In other developments Nancy Seaton announced, at the meeting, that the wayside picnic areas proposed by the committee at the Laurentian Divide overlook and Magnetic Rock Trail are now open and the trail to the latrine at the Swamper Lake picnic area has been cleared.

"Further, one of our first projects, the painting of the Grand Marais Water Tower which will include the Gunflint Scenic Byways "moose" logo is now underway and should be completed soon," Seaton stated.

Sue McDonnell also announced, at the meeting, that at the request of area resident fire fighters working on the Cavity Lake fire, with some extra time on their hands, took on the clearing of the Seagull Nature Trail, near the End of the Trail Camp Grounds. While this beautiful trail had been littered with down trees and brush for many years, it is now open again.

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