Saturday, July 21, 2007

Byways Forestry Committe Working on Ham Lake Fire Reforestion

With much of the upper end of the Gunflint Trail blacken by this spring's Ham Lake Fire, the Scenic Byways Forestry Committee along with the Seagull-Sag Home Owner's Association's Forestry Committee have formed a Reforestation Task Force to assist in coordinating the area's reforestation. The group is working with the USFS, Minnesota DNR and homeowners in this effort.

The "Task Forest" goals are to- 1. restore the upland jack pine/black spruce ecosystem to something approaching the acreage of the pre-1999 windstorm, 2. increase the acreage of red and white pine along the Gunflint Trail, 3. establish an intensive and sustained coordinated large-scale effort to control all non-native species, 4. assist in acquire adequate funding and "man power" to accomplish these goals. These goals have been presented to the USFS. Dennis Neitzke, Gunflint District Ranger, has agreed that these goals were a good starting point.

Thus far the group has held a preliminary meeting with the USFS and a follow-up meeting is planned as soon as the Gunflint Ranger District's Initial Fire Assessment is completed. This Assessment is expected to be completed sometime within the next few weeks.

Since the meeting with the USFS, the Task force has added the additional goal of selecting strategically located sites along the Gunflint Trail where reforestation would have significant scenic and/or recreational impact. In pursue of this addition objective the task force is now preparing a list of "target areas" along the Trail for this purpose.

While the DNR does not have jurisdiction over a lot of land in the fire area, they do have two site of some significant. These sites are- the burned over area north of the Gunflint Trail and Little Iron Lake, where the old dilapidated DNR cabin is located and the area south of the Seagull Guard Station. The Task Force has talked to the DNR about their land within the fire and they will be meeting with DNR in the near future about reforestation of State land that was burned.

Current members of this task force are: Jim Raml, Nancy Seaton, Diane Fitzgerald Leanne Adams, Ted Young, Bob Einsweiler, Barbara Bottger, Dave Gerkeusmeyer, Greg Gecas, Alice Weck and Doug Graham. The committee is open to others. If you would like more information or would like to join the committee call 218-388-4487.

According to Ted Young, author of this post "we realize what is implemented in the forest in the near future will effect what the Gunflint is going to look like not in a few years but decades from now. We are looking towards the future and hope to help create a Gunflint Trail future generations will be proud of."

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