Urgent: Protect Mature Pine Forest on the North Arm Trails

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The wild, untrammeled forests of the North Arm Trails near Ely, MN attract numerous skiers and hikers.  It is accessible, inspiring and loved by a diverse population for recreation and study. Much of this stately forest is well over 130 years old and shows very little human impact.

If the DNR continues a hasty track to sell, timber companies will bid to harvest 30% of the mature red and white pines from the 62 acres located in the heart of the North Arm Trail system as early as November and December 2017 with harvest slated for winter, 2018.

Roads, loading areas and skidder trails to accommodate large logging trucks and machinery would be built through the delicate landscape of the trail system and surrounding forest.  This activity would change the nature of this beloved area for many decades.

We ask the DNR to halt the sale.

Swiftly pushing this plan forward is not in the interest of the DNR or the users of this area. Stakeholders are deeply concerned. Pausing for thoughtful and meaningful reconsideration can only improve outcome for all involved.*

We recognize that timber harvest is often necessary, however this is a special stand (due to maturity, natural integrity and high value to many users) and deserves special care and consideration.

The DNR should pause and take time to recognize economic, ecological and existential values:

  • Economic: Recognize the economic impact of the thousands of visitors to the trail system. The sustainable solid economic benefits of the current forest could be lost in exchange for a very modest one-time sale. The single track wilderness-like ski trails are touted as some of the very best in the state and provide a sustainable economic tourism engine for the state and the city of Ely.
  • Ecological: At least one of the four forest stands within the 62- acre site is well over 130 years old, probably dating from fires in 1863 or 1864 and appears to show little sign of human disturbance, thereby meeting DNR’s definition of old-growth forest. The premise  that most of this open, naturally regenerating forest would be “healthier” under the proposed harvest is questionable and is supported by little data.  Additionally, the impact of all proposed harvest activities on healthy forest regeneration in a changing climate must be considered with greater care.
  • Existential: Recognize how deeply the wild and untrammeled nature of this area is valued in the hearts and minds of the many numerous users, young and old.  This area is truly a sanctuary, and we ask for great care and full-hearted consideration of those intangible, inspirational values.

This site is merely 62 acres.  The impact of removing this small parcel from the annual state harvest is minimal compared to the impact of dramatically altering the ecosystem of a highly valued, and inspiring natural sanctuary for numerous visitors.

* Of note: The DNR is certified by FSC-US and has committed to follow its current forest management standard. Indicator 4.4.d.2 of that standard requires that “Public​ ​notification​ ​is​ ​sufficient​ ​to allow​ ​interested​ ​stakeholders​ ​to​ ​learn​ ​of​ ​upcoming​ opportunities​ ​for​ ​public​ ​review​ ​and/or comment​ ​on​ ​the​ ​proposed​ ​management.”​ The DNR has admitted to falling short on this standard for this site. In consideration of how this deeply concerning plan impacts public trust, less haste and more care is highly advised and would benefit all.