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Beltrami County Board: County airs natural resources complaints

Closure of a trail near Blackduck and an appeal from a logger being denied work in Beltrami County highlight commissioners' work on Tuesday.

Larry Zea of Blackduck is protesting the closure of Pimushe Trail by the U.S. Forest Service, a closure he says the federal agency has no right in doing.

Also, commissioners will consider an appeal from Loren Loch Logging after the County Natural Resources Management Department suspended the firm's status as a responsible operator for a year for unsatisfactory work on Turtle Lake and Turtle River count logging contracts.

Both are part of the County Board's regular meeting at 5 p.m. in the County Administration Building, 701 Minnesota Ave.

County Administrator Tony Murphy asked the Forest Service to respond to why it closed the Pimushe Trail, and it sent a packet of information to Murphy.

"It appears that the information supports a conclusion that the U.S. Forest Service went through the proper processes and procedures to close the road," Murphy wrote in a memo.

"The question that remains unanswered by the material is whether the U.S. Forest Service actually owned the road, giving them the right to close the road."

Zea raised that question to the Forest Service, and there is a note in the documents that it sought an attorney's opinion, which it is not making public.

The County Board will consider the material and decide what action, if any, it should take.

In the Loren Loch Logging case, the Natural Resources Mangement Department said that the firm conducted logging in the rain against contract instructions, and now is appealing a decision to suspend its responsible operator status and also an order to pay for restoring a logging road destroyed by the company's work in the rain.

"Review of Loren Loch Logging performance shows repeated violations of their logging contracts and an unwillingness to take direction from the timber sale administrator," according to a memo to commissioners from NRM Director Greg Snyder.

Also on the regular agenda, commissioners will consider the appointment of Marshall Graham as land commissioner, as Snyder is leaving that post. Commissioners will also fill a full-time child protection social worker position.

The County Board's 3 p.m. work session will continue a review of 2011 county department budgets. Review Tuesday includes county assessor, human resource management, Management Information Services, county recorder, Natural Resource Management and facilities management.

The board's consent agenda includes county bills and warrant payment listing, approval of special assessments to a parcel for removal of a derelict structure, approval of judicial ditch benefit percentages for 2011 and approval of several liquor, 3.2 percent beer set-up and pawn licenses.

Also, commissioners will consider approval of a 2011 flexible spending administrator, of a technical evaluation panel recommendation for a wetland bank plan for the state on property owned by Joe Rossier and final pay vouchers for a road project.

Commissioners will be asked to approve a public and stakeholder comment period on high conservation value forest attributes and of a Beltrami Electric utility easement.

The consent agenda includes monthly health and human services reports and licensing.