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Lucachick calls for limited harvesting in county parks

Beltrami County manages more than 140,000 acres for sustainable timber harvest, so it should be able to allow trees to stand in county parks, a county commissioner said Tuesday.

"You can have 98 percent but can't you leave 2 percent?" Board Chairman Jim Lucachick asked County Natural Resource Management Director Greg Snyder on Tuesday.

"The timber industry won't be going broke if it doesn't harvest this little itty bit," he said. "Can we leave a couple of sticks?"

Commissioners have been pressured by a group of county residents to not harvest trees in the county-managed Movil Maze and Three Island County Park, popular hiking and cross country ski areas. Lucachick has toured both with county staff, and met with the citizens.

The board, however, set policy that the county's forests be primarily managed for sustainable timber harvest, as revenues help other uses, such as recreational trails and maintaining the county parks.

"As chairman of the County Board, all I have asked for is to let up a little bit in that recreational area," Lucachick told Snyder of timber harvests in the two parks.

At least one commissioner took issue with Lucachick, accusing him of working independently without board approval.

"Why are you all about making yourself up as a crusader?" Commissioner Quentin Fairbanks asked. "You never talked to the board about it."

Instead of working by himself, Lucachick should have brought proposed policy changes to the board, Fairbanks said. "It's a living document. It can be changed."

"I'm not trying to be a crusader," Lucachick said. "I have no hidden agenda. ... We will keep our loggers going. I want to go into the other 98 percent, not the small area for recreational use. We need to hang onto that little itty bit of recreational land."

But Snyder said his staff is learning and that adjustments are being made. Each proposed timber sale now goes through the County Parks and Trails Advisory Council for comment, he said.

"We are doing some of the things you asked for," Snyder told Lucachick. "Maybe we aren't doing a good PR job about what we have been doing."

A recent state report showed that only half the available timber for a sustainable harvest is being taken from state lands, Lucachick said, surmising the same is true for county land harvests, He posed that question to Snyder, who didn't answer it.

Lucachick accused Snyder's policy in parks as "aggressive clear cutting."

Snyder said his staff has worked with providing buffer zones between trails and cut areas, and retained wind-firm trees. Also being left are overmature residual maple, red pine and balsam.

"We continue to address the concerns of people," he said.

"The manner and method of harvesting in parks ... for esthetics is not the same as timber harvests overall," said Commissioner Joe Vene, who allowed for some protection in county parks but not a ban on harvesting,.

bswenson@bemidjipioneer.com

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