From garbage to trees, the Crow Wing County Board listened to a variety of presentations Tuesday during its Committee of the Whole meeting in the County Board Room.
The board heard a presentation on the forest industry, the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway and a recirculation to energy project. The board took no action on any of the presentations, as the Committee of the Whole meeting's purpose is for the board to gather information on a specific topic, said County Administrator David Hamilton.
Doug Morris, county solid waste coordinator, and Fred Doran, R.W. Beck and project manager of the recirculation to energy project, discussed how the county can convert gas generated from the landfill and reuse it for energy generation instead of having the gas go to waste.
The county is constructing a new cell with a leachate collection system that will recirculate the waste to energy. Doran said recirculation will increase the waste stabilization rate, reduce the long-term pollution risk, reduce leachate management costs and enhance gas generation. The recirculation project will save the county about $2.3 million in leachate storage cost and the amount of air space that will be gained. The cell should not reach its full capacity until 2017.
Morris said the cell construction cost is $1.7 million and the pipeline would cost $2 million. The county is looking at installing a pipeline from the landfill to the Weyerhaeuser Co. in Deerwood. The county is working on a purchase agreement with the company that would utilize the natural gas produced.
The county expects the operation to be up and running by next fall.
The board also heard from Terrance Weber, director of external relations of the Minnesota Forest Industries, who gave an overview of the forest product industry in the state.
Weber said there are more than 40,000 forest industry employees in the state, who earn $1.8 billion in wages annually. The forest industry is the fourth largest industry in Minnesota based on employment and about 60 percent of the jobs are in greater Minnesota.
Weber said the timber harvest is declining and if the county wants to stay competitive it needs to increase its supply of timber. Weber said the trees are beginning to get older and deteriorating and one thing that can be done is to harvest the trees at a younger age.
To also stay competitive, Weber said counties can manage their forests better, have a more productive labor force and take part of the forest certification program.
Thomas Cowell, county land commissioner, said the county looked at having its forests certified in the mid '90s, but it never happen. He said the county is looking at it again, but it'll be a slow process. He said there is a lot of work needed to have forests certified and he's concerned that the existing staff wouldn't be able to handle the workload.
Weber said one of the struggles loggers have had in the state is trying to increase the weight restrictions on roads. Weber said another thing counties can do is to talk to their legislators into accomplishing this.
On a lighter note, the county board heard from Lynn Scharenbroich, who is on the board of directors of the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway. Scharenbroich discussed the history of the bypass and the corridor management plan the board is working on that will guide management, marketing and monitoring efforts associated with the bypass.
JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5851.
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