Notice: I've taken a part-time job, and it's definitely affecting my blogging time. I'll continue to add content here as often as possible. Pertinent guest posts are always welcome.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Minnesota Trail Connection Possibilities?

including information from a news article in the Duluth News-Tribune, "Outdoors council recommends preserving northern Minnesota forests", by Sam Cook, Mar 11, 2009

Assuming that the Minnesota Arrowhead route is approved by Congress at some point there still remains the big gap in the trail from Ely to Grand Rapids, Minnesota. These 50 miles will need to be connected by some means other than the Taconite snowmobile trail which is, for now, at least an off-road option for a hiker to follow in the summer. However, motorized trails can not be certified, and portions of the trail are known to be under water in the summer.

In Minnesota there is a source of funding for game, fish and wildlife projects. Certain sales taxes are now generated by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy constitutional amendment that was passed by voters last fall. The Lessard Outdoor Heritage Council is a 12-member citizen council which makes recommendations as to how the money should be spent.

The council has voted to allocate $20 million to the "Forests for the Future — Upper Mississippi River Project" in each of the next two fiscal years. The Minnesota DNR had requested $42,700,000 for the project.

The money would be used to purchase easements on 187,000 acres of forested land owned by UPM-Kymmene. This Finland-based company owns the Blandin paper mill in Grand Rapids. Most of the lands are in Itasca, Koochiching, St. Louis, Cass and Aitkin counties. These easements would guarantee that the land remains open to the public while still allowing the company to conduct sustainable timber harvests.

UPM-Kymmene has yet to formally agree, but the outlook is positive. A map of the land parcels was not provided with the news article, but it seems likely that some of them might be in locations which could provide passage for the North Country Trail.

See Minnesotans- Support the Arrowhead

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