Briefly: Sept. 21Brief news items from around the county.
Due to a number of wildfires in the Superior National Forest and Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, lake closures and campfire restrictions are currently in effect. Lake/portage closures are updated frequently and can be viewed at www.fs.usda.gov/superior. Campfires are currently restricted from 7 p.m. to midnight in the BWCAW.
According to the Superior National Forest, there has been a total of 54 fires during 2012. 32 of these were human caused and 22 were caused by lightning. The total acreage burned by wildfires to date is 315.
Aerial firefighters ask for cooperation from civilian pilots
Firefighting agencies frequently use helicopters and airplanes to assist ground crews in Minnesota while fighting wildfires. During a fire in western Minnesota, near Rothsay, firefighting aircraft were maneuvering over the fire when a privately-owned, civilian Cessna airplane flew within 250 feet of one of the air tankers. The tanker had to bank to avoid a potential collision with the Cessna. The possible disaster has prompted the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to issue a statement asking for cooperation from civilian pilots.
Many fires have a temporary flight restriction placed over the area of firefighting. However, smaller fires that require quick responses don’t allow enough time to put in place a TFR and notify pilots. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is asking for the professional courtesy of all pilots to stay five miles and 5,000 feet MSL from fires, even those without a TFR, so aerial firefighters can do their job safely, efficiently and effectively.
More flood relief options
The News-Chronicle previously published information about the U.S. Small Business Administration Loan. This loan, intended for anyone who has sustained damage from the flood, is still available. Interested parties can apply at www.sba.gov or by calling (800) 659-2955. Those that are not eligible or whose SBA loan only covers a portion of the damages may now be eligible for more funds through the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency Quick Start Program. Home owners must first apply for the SBA loan to be eligible for the Quick Start Program. Those that have applied for the SBA loan and are still in need of funds can call Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency at (218) 749-2912 ext. 288 or (800) 662-5711.
Land swap bill passes
The U.S. House approved legislation Wednesday that would swap 86,000 acres of state-owned land inside the Boundary Waters for an equal value of federal land outside the wilderness.
The bill, which has not been introduced in the Senate, passed 225-189. It is an effort to end a decades-long disagreement over what to do with state-owned land locked inside the federal Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The argument in favor of the bill is that this land has been unavailable for logging or mining, and has therefor contributed nothing to the state’s permanent school trust fund that helps pay for K-12 education across the state.
The legislation, HF 5544, sponsored by Rep. Chip Cravaack, R-North Branch, would force the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service to make the swap. It’s the furthest any effort has advanced. to settle the land dispute.
Lawsuit filed against Minnesota wolf hunt
Two animal protection groups this morning filed a lawsuit with the state Court of Appeals seeking an injunction against wolf hunting and trapping in Minnesota this fall.
The Center for Biological Diversity and Howling for Wolves say the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources failed to provide a formal opportunity for public comment on recently approved rules establishing wolf hunting and trapping.
The groups also claim that lawmakers violated their own 2001 wolf management plan that called for a five-year moratorium on wolf hunting and trapping once the animals were taken off the federal endangered species list.
Minnesota’s first wolf hunt in nearly a half-century is scheduled to begin Nov. 3 with the opening of the deer firearms season; the state’s rules provide that 6,000 licenses will be sold to kill 400 wolves. The lawsuit filed today asks the Minnesota Court of Appeals to prevent implementation of wolf hunting and trapping rules until the court can issue its decision in the case.