By Dan Reed 

Study to investigate effect of pine harves on endangered bats

 


"What effects, if any, pine plantation harvesting has on endangered bats is the focus of a study that is in the process of being funded through cooperation between Enbridge and Carlton County," explained Greg Bernu, land commissioner, at the Carlton County Committee of the Whole meeting recently. "Dovetail Partners, known as neutral in their investigative work, will be hired for this work researching this issue."

Bernu explained that just as the wolf and eagle have been listed on the list of endangered species by the US Fish and Wildlife people, the long-eared bat is now their concern. The long-eared bat — and with that other native bats — has lived in 29 states in the past. A disease is killing large numbers of them. In most states pine groves are a major home for the bats in the warmer weather.

New regulations are in the process of being considered and will be enforced. It is possible that bridges, older buildings, and older groves of timber could not be touched during warm weather when bats are out and about from their winter warrens.

Specific to northern Minnesota, old farming ground and land that is traditionally pine forested has been restocked with planted pine, mostly red pine, which when harvested is used in sawmills for construction framing material and treated fence posts. Prime time to harvest these pine trees is during the spring during road limits. The county benefits from higher stumpage prices and loggers are able to continue working in the spring while the winter freezing melts. Rules to protect the long-eared bat would cripple pine timber harvest in our area.

"Unfortunately, these Federal regulations are set up as one size fits all," Bernu continued to explain. "We have other trees that are homes for bats during the warm months. We would not, I believe, impact bats with a spring harvest of plantation pine. This study could give us facts and a case for not following the federal regulations." The county commissioners gave their assent.

Carlton County Health and Human Services gave a 2012 Flood Recovery Grant update. Information was based on a written survey mailed out to affected Carlton County residents and 110 responded. Overall, recovery from the flooding continues. Some interesting results of the survey were:

1. 49 percent had major damage, $10,000 or more.

2. 32 percent are fully repaired yet 49% responding still have home repairs to do.

3. 5 percent moved permanently.

4. 6 out of 10 respondents have debt from the flooding.

5. 25 percent have debt they cannot pay or have difficulty paying.

6. 52 percent received financial assistance for flood recovery.

7. 99 percent did not receive stress management services.

On other issues, Mike Tardy, county highway engineer, reported he had met with representatives from the Carlton County Fair Association exploring annual help his department provides for the fair. Tardy explained talks will be set for each budget year with a budget line item set for this help. The fair board has needed help for sweeping, brushing, crack repair, grading and gravel hauling. A request had been made by the fair board to have a county representative as a voting member on their board.

Commissioner Sue Zmyzlony, Carlton County board representative to the Fair Association, noted, "Tardy is just formalizing what has been done in the past."

Commissioner Dick Brenner who has been the board's representative to the Friends of Animals board meetings reported, "They have been cutting expenses and examining the cost of purchases. A $375,000 property in Blackhoof Township has been willed to them. At this point the subject has not been brought up at a board meeting. I will ask at the next gathering."

 

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