Wednesday, February 8th, 2023
Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

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Environmentalists, loggers disapprove of forest plan

Associated Press

Duluth, Minn. Federal officials have unveiled a $4 million,
long-range plan for Minnesota’s two national forests, setting
guidelines and policies for how the Chippewa and Superior national
forests will be managed for the next 15 years.

The plan met with immediate criticism from both environmental
groups and timber industry leaders for allowing either too much or
too little logging.

The plan classifies about 950,000 acres in Superior as suitable
for timber production, and recommends about 13,000 of them be
logged each year for the next decade. It identifies about 450,000
timberland acres in the Chippewa and estimates about 7,700 would be
cut annually.

The area of greatest controversy is in Superior National Forest,
which contains the million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area
Wilderness and 1.2 million acres of additional forest land. While
the plan would not change how the wilderness is managed, it would
allow slightly more logging in the non-wilderness area than was
previously allowed.

Environmentalists want less logging and more protected lands.
The Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness released a study last
summer suggesting that 90,000 acres on 24 parcels many of them
roadless areas adjacent to the boundary waters should be added to
the wilderness.

Melissa Lindsay, the group’s executive director, said the Forest
Service ignored both the study and more than 2,500 public comments
about the plan that supported more wilderness in Minnesota.

Jim Sanders, supervisor for Superior National Forest, said
planners rigorously studied 30 areas for potential wilderness
designation. Sanders said they found none of the areas warranted a
recommendation to Congress, which makes the final decision about
additions to wilderness areas.

Sanders said some of the contested areas may receive special
treatment as natural research sites, semi-primitive zones, or
protected headwaters areas.

The forest plan is very balanced, he said, providing an even
flow of timber products, increased habitat for different types of
wildlife and greater diversity in the age and species of trees in
the next 20 to 50 years.

Wayne Brandt, executive vice president of the Minnesota Timber
Producers Association, said he would have preferred that more land
be available for timber harvesting on the Superior and especially
on the approximately 675,000-acre Chippewa National Forest.

Both forests have plenty of old trees, Brandt said, and
“utilizing timber harvesting would be better than allowing those
stands to move into the future through blowdown, insects, disease,
and fire.”

The new plan will be implemented in 30 days, although it may be
appealed.

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