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Beltrami County Board: County to discuss park timber policy

Trees would continue to be harvested in Beltrami County parks, but under a much more subdued policy, a policy county commissioners will consider Tuesday.

In February, a group of citizens asked commissioners to stop planned timber harvest activities in the county's parks, particularly Three Island Park and Movil Maze. County policy calls for timber harvest policies to take precedence over all others.

The county, however, does practice sustainable timber harvest on its more than 140,000 acres. County Board Chairman Jim Lucachick requested a field trip to survey the parks, and have the County Parks and Trails Advisory Council consider the matter.

A new proposed policy is before the County Board at its 5 p.m. regular meeting Tuesday at the County Administration Building, 701 Minnesota Ave.

"The recommended policy has two main components: that all project plans for management in the parks will be presented to the (Parks and Trails Advisory Council) prior to implementation; and that the county will set a goal of investing 15 percent of projected timber sale revenue in diversifying tree species composition in harvest areas," Greg Snyder, Beltrami county director of resource management, states in a memo to commissioners.

A proposed policy amendment to the county's Recreational Facilities Plan would recognize the recreational value of county parks.

"The county recognizes that Three Island Park and Movil Maze provide excellent outdoor recreation opportunities and the county will continue to work to improve the available recreational experience," the amendment states. "Forest management activities that result in the production of commercial timber will continue to occur."

It would provide that stands that are adjacent to trails would see treatment methods that reduce negative effects that may occur because of timber harvest. "Appropriate options will be determined based on size, age, diversity of species within the stand, and the limitations due to stand composition and trail density."

For instance, very large aspen stands can be cut over several years. Or visual best management practices can be used where stands can be cut in irregular shapes or buffers and islands left.

Large individual trees such as red or white pine, trees of a certain size, or pockets of trees of a different species, can be left.

The amendment also calls for more public education to inform the public that decisions the county makes today dictate what the forest will look like 40, 80 or more than 100 years from now. "What makes a trail a favorite of an individual may be the result of 40 years of forest management activities."

The county will do a better job of explaining why it chooses to conduct forest management activities in the manner that is chosen today, it says.

The county will also try to improve cooperative efforts with various trail user groups to reduce the number of conflicts between differing activities in the parks.

Also part of the County Board's regular agenda, commissioners will discuss an evaluation contract for a Minnesota Family Investment Program pilot project with Idea Circle Inc.

The contract is not to exceed $10,000 for 2009.

Earlier this year, several firms were contracted for the development and implementation of a pilot program to move MFIP recipients out of poverty. Idea Circle will provide an independent outcome evaluation.

The board will hold a session closed to the public for the annual evaluation of County Administrator Tony Murphy.

The board, at its 3 p.m. work session, will receive the county's annual audit report from the firm of Larson Allen. It will also consider a request to contract for Light Detection and Ranging data for use in flood plain mapping, storm water management, drainage basin delineation, shoreline erosion, and more.

Murphy will also give an update on federal legislative initiatives.

In a rare request, a citizen has asked for work session time to present a proposal to purchase some county tax-forfeit land on which he has unintentionally trespassed by constructing a septic system.

Landowner Bruce Steward and contractor Paul Wiese will make the pitch. They were granted a permit to install a septic system on Steward's property at 2191 Adams Ave. N.W., but it was actually constructed on county land.

They now propose to purchase 75 to 100 feet into the county land, otherwise they have been ordered to remove the septic system and restore the land, paying the county restitution for destroyed trees, by June 30.

The County Board's consent agenda includes county bills and warrant payment listing, approval of a cross country ski capital grant sponsorship, approval of a bid awards for the County Highway Department for rumble strips on several county roads; for gravel base, bituminous paving and box culvert on County Road 35; for a grant agreement for intersection safety improvements on County Roads 20 and 21; and a resolution to finance cost in excess of a grant on County Road 21 with state aid funds.

The consent agenda also includes approval to extend a host county contract with the Upper Mississippi Mental Health Center and a host county waiver services contract with Summit Fiscal Agency.