Pioneer Editorial: 'Big picture' sought for county lands
Beltrami County is poised to set in place far-reaching policy to guide the management of the county's natural resources. Through the creation of a Recreation Resource Advisory Council, the Beltrami County Board hopes to put in place an avenue to ...
Beltrami County is poised to set in place far-reaching policy to guide the management of the county's natural resources. Through the creation of a Recreation Resource Advisory Council, the Beltrami County Board hopes to put in place an avenue to consider the "big picture" of resource management in the county, from recreation to forest practices to facilities and infrastructure.
Understandably, there is some trepidation over the process, that it is motivated by those who can't wait to open up their all-terrain vehicles in some secluded corner of county-managed land or those who wish to log off the timber. But what the public needs to understand is that in light of increasing pressure from all sides to use our natural resources, we need to put in place plans which direct multi-uses where they are environment-ally appropriate and then actively enforce restrictions where they are not.
A county trails task force will soon roll out a 63-page trails plan showing a variety of proper places and uses, such as equestrian trails and a possible horse camp northeast of Bemidji or possible ATV loops and technical challenge areas on abandoned rail right-of-way near Pinewood. Putting such uses where they are appropriate maintains the multi-use goals of the county while protecting the environment. The problem now with abusive ATV use is the lack of sanctioned trails on which to ride. The trails plan also suggests cross-country ski trails, mountain bike trails, canoe trails, dog sledding and Skijoring trails and hiking trails, as well as forest access routes.
The advisory council's first task will be to frame a parks plan for the county, a-gain stressing multi-use where appropri-ate. The Movil Maze may want to be devel-oped as hunter walking trails and cross country skiing, while the county is consid-ering acquiring the Grant Lake park at Wilton, which could be an excellent picnic and swimming area. Other parts of the county may want to be formally label-ed as parks where timber activity is limit-ed and ATV or snowmobile use is banned.
There will also be opportunities to plan for infrastructure, such as trailheads where an ATV trail, snowmobile trail and cross-country ski trail can intersect with a shared parking area and restroom facilities.
As a third part of the advisory council's charge, the county will soon be certified as having timber management policies and practices that follow strict guidelines for a sustainable forest. The council will be able to recommend recreation resource policy that conforms with sustainable forest policy, maintaining Beltrami County's valuable resource assets into perpetuity.
The idea is to thoughtfully plan for the use of our natural resources, before pressure from competing special interests threaten to determine those uses for us. A Recreation Resource Advisory Council, properly represented by Beltrami County residents and stakeholders, can only help provide the policy-making County Board with the "big picture" in properly managing the county's 147,000 acres of tax-forfeited land.