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Beltrami County Commissioners to ponder forest policies

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

A discussion of Beltrami County's forest management policies headline Tuesday's County Board work session.

Commissioners will meet at 3 p.m. at the County Administration Building, 701 Minnesota Ave., to discuss Natural Resource Management Department forest management trends and policy.

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Later, at the County Board's 5 p.m. regular meeting, commissioners will hold a public hearing on its five-year Transportation Improvement Plan.

Greg Snyder, NRM director, in a memo says he wants to "review recent forest industry/economic trends related to a recent decline in timber prices and a projected decrease in apportionment dollars over the 2009-11 time frame."

Commissioners earlier this month toured and met with officials at Norbord and Potlatch Corp.

"Though timber prices are down in comparison to prices in the last three-four years, projected NRM revenues should allow us to accomplish our goals of managing for forest health, providing wood to local mills and reforesting harvested areas," Snyder wrote.

Revenues from timber harvests on county-managed lands are shared through apportionments with local school districts and townships, and help fund activities such as site preparation and reforestation for a sustainable forest.

"Apportionment dollars are projected to decrease over the next few years as a function of lower timber prices and the planned use of timber development dollars that were set aside during the jackpine budworm era," he wrote.

"In short, projected income appears to be sufficient to support our forest management work, but there will be less left over to apportion," Snyder wrote.

Also during the work session, commissioners will discuss a possible ordinance permitting the use of mini-trucks on county roads, the designation of Minnesota Counties Insurance Trust voting delegates and designate a county representative on the Old Fairgrounds Property Committee.

Mini-trucks, which often resemble pickup trucks but with smaller engines and less weight, may not be registered through the state motor vehicles division because they haven't been manufactured to federal safety standards.

An ordinance would permit the operation of mini-trucks only on roads designated by the county, and that they follow applicable traffic rules and driver licensing requirements.

The County Board, at its regular meeting, will review the county's fee schedule for a number of services which charge fees.

During the regular meeting, the County Board will hold a public hearing and will review and consider amendments to the county five-year Transportation Improvement Plan.

The plan calls for $27.36 million in road and bridge construction from 2009-13. It includes $8.28 million in work in 2009, dropping to $6.3 million in 2010.

The five-year plan sees $10.6 million in federal funds, $3.1 million in county funds, $1.4 million in bridge bonding, $170,000 in township bridge funds and $78,000 in state park funds.

Also part of the regular meeting, commissioners will consider filling a vacant highway support technician position.

The County Board's consent agenda includes paying county bills and warrant payment listing, approval and certification of special assessments on several parcels, approval of a trail assistance transfer and grant, and approval of a host county contract with Northwestern Minnesota Juvenile Center.

Commissioners will also be asked to approve a Beltrami Electric utility easement, approval of a Federal Emergency Management Administration grant application to update the county's hazard mitigation plan and of an amended FEMA sub-grant agreement for the County Highway Department for flood mitigation from last spring's flooding.

Also, commissioners will be asked to approve a resolution to advance $1.7 million of the 2010 County State Aid Highway apportionment for 2009 work on County Road 39 and for a final voucher on a County Road 35 project.

Commissioners will receive regular Health and Human Services reports and licensures, approve monthly bills and approve a parent support outreach program grant award for 2010.

bswenson@bemidjipioneer.com

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