Friday, May 26, 2006

DNR Response and the Governor Ask Questions

DNR to Gunflint Trail; drop dead Gunflint! Doug Tillma, DNR Northeast Regional Forester, when questioned about the Gunflint clear cut, told a Cook County News Herald reporter that, "no change in the proposal is anticipated."

Meanwhile Paul Debuque, area Forester in Two Harbors, has requested to meet with the Scenic Byways Committee to "explain" what they attend to do.

Governor Tim Pawlenty was in Grand Marais, Friday (May 26) to tour the area. He was hosted by the community at a breakfast in the morning and afterwards he hosted his regular Friday wcco radio call-in show. During the broadcast the Governor interviewed Bruce Kerfoot, of Gunflint Lodge. The Governor's first question to Kerfoot was, I understand that Gunflint Trail residents are not happy with a DNR timber sale along the Gunflint. Bruce then when on to explain that residents are very up set that the DNR is planning to clear cut right up to the edge of the Gunflint and while the DNR has temporally withdrawn the sale, "we are not sure they are willing to do anything to change the sale."

During the call-in portion of the broadcast, according to the governor's staff, Gunflint Trail residents jammed the phone lines with their calls. However due to the limited time available only a few callers where able to get through and talk to the Governor. Among those callers was Biz Clark of Poplar Lake who stated "she agreed with Mr. Kerfoot," and she was not happy with the DNR clear-cutting along the Gunflint.

As of yet, the Governor has made no commitment to aid Gunflint Trail residents in their fight with the DNR over the clear cut.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Zone Change Turned Down By Board and Supports Byways

The Cook County Board, yesterday, turned-down Windigo Lodge's request for zone change on the Lodge's property north of the Gunflint Trail The lodge had requested a change from Resort-Commercial to General-Commercial. The county Planning Commission had recommended to the board to turn-down the request.

In other action, the County Board unanimous approved a motion by Jim Johnson to send a letter to the Minnesota DNR with a copy to the Gunflint Ranger District to urges the agencies to work with the Gunflint Scenic Byways Committee in preserving the scenic nature of the Gunflint Trail on the planning of all timber projects. Jim Raml, Scenic Byways Forestry Committee, chairperson praised the Board action and stated, "this should help reinforce our efforts to preserve the scenic quality of the Gunflint."

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Forest Service's Gunflint Trail Timber Management Plans

The Forest Services' new timber management plan along the Gunflint Trail is entitled the Devils Trout Proiect. The plan covers the area from next to the Washington Forest to near Northern Lights Hill. In unveiling the plan , Dennis Neitzke acknowlegde the need to preserve the scenic "visual integrity" of the trail on any timber management program.

In reviewing this new plan the Gunflint Scenic Byways' Forest Committee has conclude, that for the most part it does make an effort to respect the nature scenic qualities of the Gunflint. And it certainly is a much more acceptable plan than the DNR's Clearcut. However, the committee was concern about some of the clear cuts the Forest Service was proposing and portions of the Devil Trouts reforestation plans. These concern are address in the Committee's comments on the plan presented to the Forest Service on May 22.

To view the full texts of the Byways Committee's comments click on Comments.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Breaking News- DNR withdraws Clear Cuts For Now

Paul Dubuque, DNR forester from Two Harbors, a 11:30am today, bowing to pressure from the Gunflint Scenic Byways Committee and residents of the Gunflint Trail announced the withdrawal of the proposed Clear Cutting timber sales along the Gunflint. The sale was schedule to be sold in mid June.

In making the announcement Dubuque has requested to meet with the Byways Committee. And he has offered to work with the Gunflint community to develop an acceptable timber sale plan for the Gunflint. He went on to say he hopes to submit a new timber sales plan by November.While we many have won the battle over this sale for now, we still have to make sure that Dubuque's November timber harvesting plan is something that the Gunflint community can accept.

Gunflint Trail Residents Ask for Help

Now that the Gunflint Trail Association and the Gunflint Scenic Byways Committee has formally requested that the DNR withdraw their proposed Clear Cut Timber Sales along the Gunflint, area residents are joining the battle with the DNR to stop the Clear Cutting. Area resident are circulating the follow notice -

"We Need Your Help - Stop the Clear Cutting! Contact the DNR and tell them what you think about Clear Cutting up to the edge of the Gunflint Trail- email or call:"

Paul Dubuque, DNR- Area Forester at Two Harbors, MN
Tom Baumann, DNR Forest Section Mgr , St Paul, MN

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Gunflint Associations Ask DNR to Withdraw Clear Cuts

The Gunflint Trail two largest organizations - the Gunflint Scenic Byways Committee and the Gunflint Trail Association, in comments delivered to DNR forester Paul Dubuque, requested that the DNR's proposed clear cut along the Gunflint Trail, near the South Brule Road " be withdrawn and reanalyzed by giving equal weight to aesthetic considerations that seem to have been given to the economic considerations."

In their comments the two organizations gave the DNR until June 1 (about two weeks ) to respond. If a response is not forthcoming by then or if the requested is turned down further actions are anticipated.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

DNR to Clearcut One Mile Along Gunflint Trail

The Minnesota DNR's 2006-07 timber sales include two logging clearcut blocks totaling approximately one mile along both sides of the Gunflint Trail. One of the planned clearcut is near the South Brule Road and the other near the next set of "ladder signs" further up the Trail. Included in the the DNR's plans is the cutting of all the large scenic Jack Pine along the Gunflint near the South Brule Road. Two local DNR officials admitted that when the clearcut blocks where laid-out right to the edge of the Gunflint Trail the DNR's own "visual management guidelines" were ignored. Their excuse was we have to make money for the state.

If clearcutting along the Trail was not bad enough, after the cutting is completed the DNR plans contains no provisions for reforestation. In responses to questions on the clearcut's reforestation plans, Bob Maki, DNR Forester in Grand Marais, stated at the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byways Committee meeting on May 8 "we might aerial seed with black spruce some of the sales." But when question further he admitted they had no real reforestation plans. The Gunflint sales were set-up by Orvis Lunke and Mike Fitzgibbon in Grand Marais under the direction and supervision of Paul Dubuque in Two Harbors.

If this was not bad news enough, the DNR is now planning additional similar timber project along the Trail in the future.

Meanwhile according to Dennis Neitzke, USFS Gunflint District Ranger, they will seek to retain the "High Scenic Integrity" of the Gunflint Trail on all of their planned timber management projects along the Trail. The USFS's new "Devil Trout Project," which was presented to the Byways Committee , included a series of timber sales along the Gunflint from Washington's Pines to near Northerlights Lake. Unlike the DNR's planned timber sales, none of these sales included clearcutting to the edge of the Gunflint Trail.

In response to the Minnesota DNR's planned clearcutting, the Gunflint Trail Association and The Gunflint Scenic Byways Committee are submitting letters to the DNR objecting to clearcutting to the edge of the Trail and their lack of any coherent reforestation plan.

The DNR is accepting comments to their 2006-07 plans up to May 17.

This editor believes logging is and should continue to be an important industry in our county and I have no objection to logging along the Gunflint Trail, provided that when logging does occur that, ( a) it take into account and seek to enhance the nature scenic nature of the Trail and not to destroy it, and (2) all logging projects includes a reforestation program that strives to replace the logged forest with a nature looking diverse- species forest.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

To The Edge

Come to the edge!
We might fall.

Come to the edge!
It's too high.

So they came and he pushed,

And they flew.

By Christopher Logue- British Poet, playwright and actor

Friday, May 05, 2006

Spring Snow - May 5, 2006

It may be spring on the Gunflint Trail but last night snow is now covering the tulips at the Poplar Creek Guesthouse B&B. As of this morning there has been over one inch of new snow and it appears more is on the way.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Windigo Lodge Requests Zoning Change

Windigo is requesting a zoning change from resort-commercial to general commercial one the lodge's property north of the Gunflint Trail. While the request does not specify why the change is being requested a general commercial zone district opens the door for must retail sales and services business including a used car lot. Currently there are no general commercial zone districts on the Gunflint. In regards to a used car lot Windigo already have half of dozen or so used cars on the property that are for- sale.

The Cook County zoning officials stated the requested change was to accommodate a Marine Sales and service operation on the property and also mentioned the possibly of a Used Car Lot. According to the Cook County Zoning Ordinance marine sale and service is allowed under Windigo's existing Resort-Commercial zoning although it might require a condition use permit. However a used car lot would not be allowed on the existing zoning, but it would be allowed in a general commercial zone.