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Crow Wing County Board: Proposal heard about potential timber sales

A breeze unfurls the American flag at the top of the Crow Wing County Historic Courthouse in Brainerd. Brainerd Dispatch File Photo

No one objected at the public meeting Tuesday before the Crow Wing County Board about the county's proposal on how to handle county-administered tax-forfeited land.

The "stand exam plan," formerly known as the "harvest plan," outlines the number of acres of tax-forfeited land that will be examined for sale potential. "Stand exam" is a forestry term and involves the collection of data on the composition of a given forest.

"It's what we are looking to peruse and potentially harvest," said Chris Pence, division manager for environmental services. "On the average, we do right around 1,400 acres of timber that are cruised and based on that then we set up different timber sales."

The purpose of the public meeting is to provide public notice so all persons may comment on the proposed 2018 stand exam plan, which is available for public inspection at land services.

"Last year, we had a five-year stand exam plan, which kind of helped us project a little bit, so what you'll see is 2018 stand exam plan is really based on the 2017 stand exam plan," Pence told the board.

"We were proposed to do 581 acres of aspen (in 2017), and we only got to 544, and so we'll roll those 37 acres into the following year, 2018 ... so that's how those numbers come up, based on what we are able to do in 2017 and based on the 2018 projection."

A total of 1,483 acres are planned for examination next year. Of those, 625 are aspen, 71 are birch, 348 oak, 235 are northern hardwoods, and 204 are red pines. The goal for 2017 for total acres of "timber acres cruised" was 1,427 acres, according to Pence.

"Again, it's important to note that this isn't what's going to be harvested," Pence said. "This is just what's going to be reviewed in the field by our natural resources management."

In other business, the county board:

Heard from Emergency Management Director John Bowen about last week's storm-related damage estimated at about $210,000 as of Tuesday.

"Nisswa, north Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Jenkins, Jenkins Township, Ideal Township and Breezy Point were hit pretty hard," Bowen told the commissioners at their Tuesday meeting. "And Fifty Lakes and also Emily area had some damages, and also the co-ops, Crow Wing Power."

Bowen contacted Board Chairman Doug Houge Thursday, and a resolution declaring the county in a state of emergency was approved at the county meeting after the Sept. 20 storm.

"This isn't new to us, but this is the biggest one we've had since 2015 ... and we still have a lot of numbers coming in—waiting to hear back from a couple of the townships, a couple of the cities," Bowen told the board.

Commissioner Rachel Reabe Nystrom jokingly replied and complimented the director: "John, I must say, when you were hired, I thought, 'Really? Do we need that position?' Maybe you came, and all the storms followed. ... But we really need your expertise."

Approved a speed zone study on County Highway 49. Many have made public comments requesting a new speed study, according to county officials, in part because the last study was in 1994.

"Characteristics of the roadway and residential densities have changed in locations. It is deemed appropriate to request a speed study be conducted," according to County Engineer Tim Bray's request for board action.

Accepted donations in the amount of a $150 donation from People's Security to the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office and a $300 donation from Crow Wing Power to the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office.

Approved the reappointment of Ralph Dehning to the Natural Resources Advisory Committee, District 5 representative, with a term of Jan. 31, 2019.

Approved the reappointment of personnel board of appeals members Jenny Castle with a term of Dec. 31, 2020, Kristi Westbrock with a term of Dec. 31, 2019, Tom Haglin with a term of Dec. 31, 2018, and Jeff Wig as an alternate, which is a rotating position.

"Persons appointed to the personnel board of appeals shall not serve while holding any county office or while standing as a candidate for any county office, or while employed by the county," according to the state statute.

Approved the hiring of Robert Hall, assessor in training, land services; Erik Frey, probation agent, community services; Nicholas Lossow, correctional officer, Sheriff's Office; Artise Torrence, correctional officer, Sheriff's Office; Alanna Tibbetts, public health nurse, community services; Amy Odegard, case aide, community services; and Andrew Rugloski, part-time deputy, Sheriff's Office.

Accepted the departures of Andy Smaltz, seasonal engineering assistant, highway department; Alec Rude, seasonal engineering assistant, highway department; Sheila Kampa, family services aide, community services; Jessica Senn, correctional officer, Sheriff's Office; and Barb Dusbabek, fraud prevention investigator, community services.