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New software to be available soon

WALKER — Cass County Land Department’s new software is on target to be available to the public by the end of 2012, Land Commissioner Joshua Stevenson reported Tuesday.

Two phases have been completed, with the third phase underway to convert the land department’s data to the new internet system.

When completed, hunters will be able to locate the GPS coordinates for county hunting lands from a computer or cell phone. Loggers will be able to access from their cell phones live action for county timber sales as they happen.

More land department and more of the county’s mapping system will be available to the public even before the final implementation, according to Central Services Director Tim Richardson.

“We’re trying to get more information to the public without anyone having to go to the courthouse at Walker or land office in Backus,” Stevenson said.

On the impact Stevenson has seen since the announced closing of the Verso paper mill at Sartell, he said more wood is stockpiled than in at any time in the last five years. He said he is planning the land department 2013 budget with an anticipation of receiving lower payments per cord for wood sold from county land.

However, with prices lower, other mills may see an opportunity to expand production, he said.

While demand for aspen is down, demand has been high for the pine Cass has been offering on recent sales, according to Stevenson.

Loggers paid only $24.86 per cord for aspen, but paid $59.53 per cord for pine bolts and pulp wood. Pine saw timber sold for $122.50 per thousand board feet in a July 26 Cass auction.

The county board declined to accept funding to develop a single track mountain bike trail in the Cut Lake hunter walking and cross country ski trail system, because the state would have required the county to commit to 20 years of maintenance for the trail.

The board voted to continue an existing policy of not pledging the county to trails maintenance responsibility.

While Cass owns trails and coordinates the work clubs do to maintain trails for a variety of recreational uses, the county does not pay or pledge responsibility for maintenance. In most cases, the county serves as a conduit for clubs to receive state trail maintenance money.

The commissioners verbally supported the mountain bike trail plan. Stevenson will work with the bike club to seek other trail funding that does not require a county commitment.

He said he would have county funds available to help with start-up mountain bike trail development to match another grant the club might get that would not require county maintenance.

The propose bike trail system is located in Bull Moose Township.

The board selected the lowest of three bidders to clean the land department building at Backus for $725 per month, plus taxes. Under the new contract twice a week cleaning and several cleaning services that previously were “as needed” now will be required.

The contract calls for 15 hours per week cleaning time.

The commissioners approved a conservation easement for property James and Patricia Miller own on 2.7 acres of land abutting 243 front feet of Ten Mile Lake and endorsed a Minnesota DNR proposal to purchase 50 acres of land along Leech Lake by Uran Bay.

Doug Schultz, Walker area DNR fisheries, said the property has 5,500 feet of shoreline and abuts other state and Leech Lake tribal property. The acreage has a lot of wild rice, he said.

The DNR has approved $32,500 for Cass grant-in-aid snowmobile trail bed improvements.