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Beltrami County Board adopts forest plan for parks

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An ecologically sensitive forest management plan will be followed in Beltrami County parks, commissioners decided Tuesday night.

Commissioner Jim Lucachick, who has been seeking such changes since last year, made the motion to adopt unanimous recommendations of the County Board-appointed Park and Trail Advisory Council into the county's forest management plan.

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"This finally clarifies for me how we handle this (timber harvest on park land) and how we handle the rest," Lucachick said.

He had sought a separate policy for Three Island County Park and Movil Maze that backed off on the county's forest management plan for timber harvesting. The goal is to leave buffer zones around trails and leave more wood standing.

The Park and Trail Advisory Council approved such a policy, which was drafted by a subcommittee of the council.

"A very small percentage of (logging) projects" is involved in logging on park land, Lucachick said. "Let's get folks who won't complain about the work, such as isolating maple trees."

Key to PTAC's recommendations are four points that should be part of the county's forest policy in parks, In part, they are:

E To preserve or create visual and vegetable buffers a two pass system, perhaps using equipment that can reach in from existing trails to remove marketable, short-lived species should be used as part of every sale prescription.

E Similarity of stand prescriptions between park lands and other county lands will be removed by changing the priority of economic revenue to ecological community management. This represents a changed paradigm from one in which timber production was the fundamental consideration to one in which habitat management or development is the emphasis and timber harvest is a tool rather than an objective.

E Practices that have been written specifically for ecological community-based management will be adopted.

E Mechanisms, under which contracts are let within the park lands will be modified so that services are requested on the basis of landscape management outcomes, for which timber harvest may be part of the financial inducement. Operators should be required to post significant bonds.

Commissioner Jim Heltzer read the four points aloud, and said they make for good policy. Finding loggers who can cut wood but not along trails and leave species such as maple will be the trick, he said.

"We need loggers who are sensitive of harvesting of trees along those trails," Heltzer said.

"The timber industry is not going to rise or fall on the small amount in the parks," said Commissioner Joe Vene.

The county manages 148,000 acres of timberland.

Lucachick said he would support fully sustainable timber harvest forest management on the rest of the county lands outside the parks.

"We are fortunate, in our county, to have forest resources that can meet numerous needs from timber harvest to hunting, and from recreational trail use to sustaining a very diverse habitat for native species," states the recommendations. "Within the Movil Maze and Three Island Park, the latter two uses predominate."

"Is this tying your hands?" asked Board Chairman Jack Frost of Snyder. One provision of the recommendations calls for a 60-foot buffer zone from trails, which Frost said may be too restrictive.

"It's more specific than it needs to be," Snyder said, adding that over several conversations with those who oppose the county's forest management in parks, some changes were made.

Lucachick wants the recommendations to be part of the county's forest management, but said that he wasn't opposed to Snyder rewording some to make them realistic.

He said he would rework the recommendations, run them through PTAC, and bring them back to the County Board.

An ecologically sensitive forest management plan will be followed in Beltrami County parks, commissioners decided Tuesday night.

Commissioner Jim Lucachick, who has been seeking such changes since last year, made the motion to adopt unanimous recommendations of the County Board-appointed Park and Trail Advisory Council into the county's forest management plan.

"This finally clarifies for me how we handle this (timber harvest on park land) and how we handle the rest," Lucachick said.

He had sought a separate policy for Three Island County Park and Movil Maze that backed off on the county's forest management plan for timber harvesting. The goal is to leave buffer zones around trails and leave more wood standing.

The Park and Trail Advisory Council approved such a policy, which was drafted by a subcommittee of the council.

"A very small percentage of (logging) projects" is involved in logging on park land, Lucachick said. "Let's get folks who won't complain about the work, such as isolating maple trees."

Key to PTAC's recommendations are four points that should be part of the county's forest policy in parks, In part, they are:

- To preserve or create visual and vegetable buffers a two pass system, perhaps using equipment that can reach in from existing trails to remove marketable, short-lived species should be used as part of every sale prescription.

- Similarity of stand prescriptions between park lands and other county lands will be removed by changing the priority of economic revenue to ecological community management. This represents a changed paradigm from one in which timber production was the fundamental consideration to one in which habitat management or development is the emphasis and timber harvest is a tool rather than an objective.

- Practices that have been written specifically for ecological community-based management will be adopted.

- Mechanisms, under which contracts are let within the park lands will be modified so that services are requested on the basis of landscape management outcomes, for which timber harvest may be part of the financial inducement. Operators should be required to post significant bonds.

Commissioner Jim Heltzer read the four points aloud, and said they make for good policy. Finding loggers who can cut wood but not along trails and leave species such as maple will be the trick, he said.

"We need loggers who are sensitive of harvesting of trees along those trails," Heltzer said.

"The timber industry is not going to rise or fall on the small amount in the parks," said Commissioner Joe Vene.

The county manages 148,000 acres of timberland.

Lucachick said he would support fully sustainable timber harvest forest management on the rest of the county lands outside the parks.

"We are fortunate, in our county, to have forest resources that can meet numerous needs from timber harvest to hunting, and from recreational trail use to sustaining a very diverse habitat for native species," states the recommendations. "Within the Movil Maze and Three Island Park, the latter two uses predominate."

"Is this tying your hands?" asked Board Chairman Jack Frost of Snyder. One provision of the recommendations calls for a 60-foot buffer zone from trails, which Frost said may be too restrictive.

"It's more specific than it needs to be," Snyder said, adding that over several conversations with those who oppose the county's forest management in parks, some changes were made.

Lucachick wants the recommendations to be part of the county's forest management, but said that he wasn't opposed to Snyder rewording some to make them realistic.

He said he would rework the recommendations, run them through PTAC, and bring them back to the County Board.

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