A newly formed group, the Carlton County Land Stewards, is banding together to suggest using an alternate route for the proposed Sandpiper oil pipeline through Carlton County.
Enbridge Energy is planning to build the pipeline across Automba, Kalevala, Skelton, Mahtowa, Blackhoof and Wrenshall townships on its route from the oil fields in North Dakota to Superior.
Construction is expected to begin next year.
People gathered at the Free Range Barn near Wrenshall on Saturday evening, September 28, to learn more about the proposed pipeline and its impact on the area.
Residents that live along the proposed route have been contacted and offered cash to allow an easement across their properties for the pipeline.
Many of those residents that gathered at the Barn on Saturday night do not want a pipeline crossing their lands.
Maggie and Steven Schulstrom harvest the sap and make maple syrup from the maple trees on their 160 acres in Mahtowa Township.
“It would go right across our sugarbush,” said Maggie.
It would also cross the 200-acre Food Farm near Wrenshall, a farm that supplies fresh vegetables to its members from June through March each year.
A story on the website, carltoncountylandstewards.org, tells of Sparky, who moved to his land after a tragedy in his life. It was a healing place.
Now he has married and the couple has two young sons. If the pipeline crossed their property, it would take over their small yard and take their garage, it stated in the story.
In a handout passed out at the Barn, it states:
“The newly proposed Sandpiper pipeline would: 1) Destroy acres of carefully tended, prime Carlton County farmland, the breadbasket of local food for the Duluth area, and impede the currently growing movement of new food producers in the area; 2) Negatively impact the livelihood and land values of Carlton County residents along the proposed pipeline; 3) Clear cut timber and damage wetlands that protect the health of Lake Superior and its tributaries that provide drinking water.”
The group wants Enbridge to locate the pipeline to a less invasive route, along the Soo Line Trail.
A letter has been written by Carlton County Land Commissioner Greg Bernu and approved by Janaki Fisher-Merritt of the Food Farm, one of the leaders of the group, said Maggie Schulstrom. It will be approved by the Carlton County Board of Commissioners before it is sent to Enbridge.
Schulstrom explained that Enbridge is expected to file a Certificate of Need early in October with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.
After the certificate is filed, the public will have a 21-day window in which to comment on the proposed route for the pipeline.
“We need people to write letters to the PUC,” said Schulstrom. “We are going to ask Enbridge to put the pipeline where the rest of the pipelines are rather than open up a new corridor across Minnesota farmlands.
“There will be letter-writing workshops to show people how to write those letters and then get those letters sent.”
For more information, visit www.carltoncountylandstewards.org or call 1-888-382-7940.