BACKUS — Cass County Land Commissioner Kirk Titus presented the Cass County Forest Resources Management Plan at the Tuesday, Jan. 19, board of commissioner’s meeting.

Titus said every 10 years this plan, which covers the use and management of about 255,000 acres of tax-forfeited land, needs to be re-evaluated and updated.

The purpose and benefits of the Forest Resources Management Plan include:

  • Describing the county’s forest resource, including its extent, location and current condition,

  • Setting forth a desired future condition to which actions are directed,

  • Documenting county management policies, practices and management initiatives,

  • Providing the basis for improved coordination with other public and private resource managing agencies, and

  • Promoting continuity of management efforts over time.

The initial announcement of the launch of the project was released to local papers on Sept. 17, 2019, with a public meeting Dec. 10, 2019. On Oct. 5, 2020, a 30-day public comment period was opened up with 10 individuals and organizations providing input. Commissioner Neal Gaalswyk mentioned he noticed the majority of the comments were concerns from residents around Andrus Lake with the issue of timber harvest. Titus stated Andrus Lake is the area destroyed by the 1969 tornado near Outing and therefore a vast amount of land has mature trees ready for harvest.

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Another public comment received was a request to open gates at Deep Portage Conservation Reserve to motorized travel two weeks before deer hunting season. This comment was sent in the form of a petition with a total of 32 signatures collected.

The Cass County Forest Resources Management Plan was approved with the following updates:

  • Reviewed and updated text, maps, tables and graphs with current data,

  • Removed McKinley Prairie as a High Conservation Value Forest, and

  • Removed the 1976 Fire Area as a Representative Sample Area.

There were no policy changes, and a change in response to the petition was to be determined.

A motion was made to approve the plan as presented and also establish a committee of board to discuss the possibility of opening the gates at Deep Portage Conservation Reserve with commissioners Jeff Peterson and Bob Kangas both volunteering to serve on the committee. The motion was approved unanimously.