The March 7 issue of the Dispatch reprinted an article from the Duluth paper titled "Undeveloped chunks of northwoods being gobbled up."
In my opinion, the piece was right on, and did a good job of identifying a serious problem, not just in the "northwoods" but right here in central Minnesota.
One might ask... "What's the problem?" In a word, the problem is what's called "fragmentation" of the forests. It's a problem because in the "natural" world out there, large contiguous forested areas provide a wealth of benefits to the inhabitants of that world. And said inhabitants include a host of critters, including us humans. The list of benefits is long. It includes things like clean air, clean water, wildlife habitat , raw material for building our houses, opportunities for recreation, etc,
So, what is the concerned citizenry to do, stop the world and get off? I think not.The population is expanding, more folks want their own piece of the pie, development will continue, and most likely accelerate. Is there some kind of reasonable solution"? I think so.
It's called "Planning." Thoughtful planning, while it won't solve the problem, will go a long way toward softening the impacts of unrestricted, unplanned development.
Who should do such planning? An answer to that question can be found by looking around and observing who is already engaged in various kinds of planning. Nearly every community in our part of the world has approved a "Comprehensive Plan" of some kind.
Most counties have a "Comprehensive Land Use Plan" of some kind. Soil and Water Conservation Districts have gotten into the act with their own plans. Lakeshore Associations have done their thing. A relative newcomer to the playing field is the Minnesota Forest Resources Council, which is well along in an effort to write individual Landscape Plans for the entire state of Minnesota. These plans have an interesting thing in common. Nearly all of them identify forest fragmentation as a serious threat to the well being of our natural environment and the benefits we reap from it!
A lot of good work, sound planning, has been done. What's needed now is some good sound implementation! Those folks whose job it is to analyze development impacts, issue the permits, guide the environmental review process, etc, need to be cognizant of the various approved land use plans, and do the best job they can to ensure that the approved recommendations are considered as development occurs. Let's face it .. it will occur, one way or the other !
JIM MOHLER, a Motley resident and a member of Dispatch advisory board, is a retired forester.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.