BAXTER -- Residents upset about tree harvesting at Camp Vanasek claim Crow Wing County officials lied to them and asked the Baxter City Council to stop the cut.
David Pueringer, a resident on Cedar Scenic Drive, led a group of residents who attended Tuesday's city council meeting.
"Everybody's against it," Pueringer told the council. "We built in that area to be by the trees." Pueringer asked the city council to put a moratorium on cutting the trees down.
In March, the Crow Wing County Land Department sold the logging rights in Camp Vanasek, which the county owns and leases to the camp, to a Pierz logger for $21,384. The reason for the harvest, said Land Commissioner Tom Cowell, was because the jack pine in the area are overmature and a fire hazard.
A buffer of trees would be left around the site if residents wanted one, and the area would be reseeded as soon as possible with Norway or white pine, Cowell told the council April 2.
Pueringer said there have been several discrepancies between what Cowell told the council and what residents have heard, such as replanting wouldn't happen for two or three years and no residents were approached by the county or the logging company about leaving a buffer zone. Several residents said they didn't know the tree harvest was taking place until they read it in The Dispatch.
Cowell said the area possibly could be replanted in spring 2003 or 2004. He said Crow Wing County forester Jason Sable he had talked to some landowners about a buffer zone as he was preparing the timber sale.
Baxter Mayor Gary Muehlhausen directed City Administrator Larry Kruse to invite Cowell, Sable and concerned residents for discussion at the May 7 city council meeting.
Council member Mary Marana said she was confused about what Cowell told the council April 2 and what she was hearing from residents Tuesday.
"I don't like not knowing the truth," said Marana, citing the need for a meeting between all three parties. Kruse, however, said the county has been good to work with and straight-forward with the city council.
While Pueringer was upset at the loss of trees, fellow Cedar Scenic Drive resident Ron Shelito was opposed to development of city-owned land in the area to be harvested. The city is in the process of acquiring the land for utilities on the south edge of the area to be harvested.
"There's enough development in Baxter without the city being in the land business," said Shelito.
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