Letter: Hats off to those who saw need to keep Wilton Hill
Hats off to the Beltrami County Board, Brita Sailer and Wilton residents who have drawn a line in the gravel and are fighting to keep the famed Wilton Hill from being leveled. Hard as it is to believe, a private developer/gravel miner -- NorthStar Materials Inc. (owned by MDU Resources Group Inc., an international conglomerate) -- seeks to profit from leveling Wilton Hill, ripping out its gravel right out from under our noses. They've already leveled lots of other forest and gobbled up gravel on dozens if not hundreds of acres west of Wilton. As if to add insult to injury, this is still set to occur in the Mississippi State Forest, land supposedly managed for the public trust, and everyone's natural legacy.
I hope the proposed county-state partnership for Wilton Hill and the grass-roots outcry from the locals will convince the DNR that it needs to be a little more active in protecting this regional treasure. Though you'd think the DNR should be protecting our natural resources, they oddly seem to be in cahoots with an internationally owned corporation that wants to exploit the gravel in the state forest.
I didn't grow up in Wilton, but like many, I enjoyed fishing and swimming at Rognlien Park on Grant Lake, exploring Wilton Hill's geology and forest, climbing the now-removed fire tower from which I could see for many miles in all directions. For a kid who'd never seen the mountains, it was the closest to heaven I'd ever been.
I'm happy that Wilton is playing David to the Goliath of the earth-gobbling NorthStar Materials. Perhaps we need gravel for our modern lifestyles, but I'd be very surprised if, in their whole international operation (45 states, four countries and counting, golly the Internet is useful!), NorthStar Materials and its parent corporation MDU Resources Group Inc. can't find the gravel they want elsewhere, on their own land.