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The time for double talk is over

In the past several months Three Island Park and Movil Maze have made the Pioneer news. These areas seem to be a lightning rod. In the past, several “citizen advisory committees” provided comments and input to the Beltrami County Board and both of these committees were disbanded. Was that move because the committees were stacked by recreation users of the area? Why not have it stacked? Three Island was deeded to the county and specifically states that these lands will be used as a park and recreation area. Was it to establish the more formal “advisory committee” under the name of the Parks and Trails Advisory Committee (PTAC) and a committee more favorable to logging?

Yes. Some progress has been made with the establishment of PTAC. Numerous hours were spent by several PTAC members preparing a document on timber harvest within these parks and recreation areas. The document was approved by the county board. The document essentially states that logging will be done only to improve the recreational experience and/or for maintenance of a more natural forest. The sales would be smaller in size, selected harvesting, buffers established and no harvest of long growing hardwoods. Also any sales considered would come before PTAC and field reviews provided. Were the established guidelines followed on these most recent sales? Was a field review prior to a PTAC vote provided? Would any of the PTAC members change their vote after seeing firsthand the logging site?

Obviously some changes are yet needed. The management of Beltrami County Parks needs to be under the supervision of the newly appointed Parks and Trails Supervisor and not under the jurisdiction of one of the county foresters. Any timber harvest within these areas should be implemented by the park supervisor. The PTAC guidelines need to be revisited and become more specific. The buck stops with the county board – they need to do their job. The time for double talk is over. Our county parks need further protection. Thanks to the late Jim Heltzer and Jim Lucachick for their efforts to enhance and protect these areas.

The “Wilton Hill” addition to Ronglien Park just south of Wilton on Grant Lake needs to be expedited. The local people want the addition and Jim Heltzer had hoped to see it to reality. The time to talk is over; we need action.

Jerry Maertens