I have had the good fortune of living in this community for 26 years. When I used to come up here from Iowa to visit my in-laws, I never wanted to leave. I took me awhile to get here but I have never regretted the move.
Over the 26-year time span Bemidji has certainly changed. Regionally we are it. There is a lot that draws people here. Services provided to the area both commercially and in the non-profit realm are spare and generally efficient. There is little waste.
One of the things that makes the area rewarding is the opportunity to get out in it. If you don't like cold weather this is not the place for you -- might as well move. I like it. I like to cross country ski. It's my time in the Cathedral ... The combination of cold, a groomed trail and quiet bring a rare peace.
There are a lot of interests competing for this Cathedral. An unspoiled forest area is pretty hard to find. I don't know that it's realistic to expect that the interests of various constituencies would not come into conflict. It's inevitable.
There are rationalizations for just letting the forest be that make some sense to me. There is the aesthetic reason; just keeping the beauty of it. And there is the spiritual reason; our native brothers steeped in traditional practices understand this.
The forest land we have in the county should never be the plaything or economic engine of an elite few. It's hard to justify that. The economic value of the wood is an issue. But there are recreational values also. To my mind, it's hard to justify logging in an area that has recreational value when we really do have a lot of other areas that can be harvested. Unless I am misinformed, some of the areas logged or under consideration (The Movil Maze and Three Island Park represent at most 5 percent of what can be harvested in the county.)
I don't know what the best course needs to be. I just know that when I step out into that cold day and start walking or skiing down a trail and I come to an area that has been logged off, something's lost. I hope there is an another way.