WALKER -- The Cass County Board voted Tuesday to establish a Natural Resources Advisory Committee to replace the former Forest Advisory Committee.
The former panel was formed about a decade ago in response to a court order at the time the MacMillan Bloedell plant was built in Deerwood. All neighboring counties whose timber was expected to be cut for use at that plant were required to form such a committee.
Land Commissioner Norm Moody told commissioners Tuesday the focus has vastly expanded since then, with forests only a small part of natural resource concerns today.
The new group will be expected to convene quarterly each year to review natural resource issues and make recommendations to the county board.
Appointees are expected to represent interests in logging, farming/ranching, deer and grouse hunting, snowmobiling, all terrain and off road vehicle use, forest industry, private forest owners, resort owners, the county board, the environmental services department, the auditor-treasurer office, Realtors, the U.S. Forest Service, Minnesota DNR and lakeshore property owners.
Other interests also may be represented as identified. Members of the current forest advisory council will be welcome to apply for positions on the new committee, Moody said.
The board authorized Moody to spend $300,000 toward a cooperative project with Mule Lake property owners, Minnesota DNR and private conservation organizations to buy and set aside as a conservation project an expanse of Mule Lake shoreline.
Moody said the county can recover its investment either by cutting timber from off-shore acreages in the purchased property, by a land trade with the state or an actual cash refund the Legislature might approve.
Total purchase price for the property will be $2,578,000. The area lies on the southeast shore of Mule Lake and was previously owned by two private families.
The property will be set aside for conservation development. Ownership may ultimately go into state or county hands, Moody said, depending upon the final agreement.
The board approved road access easements to Smoky Hollow and Becker Township private properties and an easement for Little Sand Group Home near Remer to use county land for gray water treatment portion of their sewer system.
Moody told the board his department does not authorize community sewer systems to place their full treatment system on county owned or managed land, but does permit pre-filtered gray water final treatment stages on county property.
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