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BWCA fire, nearly contained, eventual good news for moose


Firefighters continue to make progress on the Pagami Creek fire in the BWCA, and there are calls for more controlled burns, says MPR’s Dan Kraker: “In northern Minnesota, some are still angry that Forest Service officials decided not to snuff out the fire when it first ignited. The fire’s rapid expansion to nearly 100,000 acres has some people calling for a more aggressive use of controlled burns in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area as the best way to balance the benefits and the dangers of fire. Advocates for such a policy can’t help but remember what happened on July 4, 1999, when 90-mile per gusts ripped across the Boundary Waters. Millions of trees were torn out of the ground. The big blowdown created one heck of a fire hazard, and the Forest Service was well aware of the risk. So over the past decade, fire managers have conducted prescribed burns on nearly 50,000 acres of what’s commonly known as the blowdown area. Another 25,000-acre burn is planned.”

And while we’re at it, the BWCA fire may make things up there a bit more moose- (and hunter-) friendly. The AP says: “Mike Schrage, a biologist with the Fond du Lac Band of Ojibwe, said he’s noticed that the fire area held fewer moose compared with other areas of northeastern Minnesota. He said the regrowth of the forest over the next few years could change that. ‘As soon as I heard there was a fire up there, I thought — woo-hoo! I can’t say that very loudly because there’s people in Isabella (a town near the fire) who are quite inconvenienced by it, but I think moose will benefit from this fire,’ Schrage said.  Schrage said research across North America indicates that moose numbers increase in areas where fires cause new growth. … How well suited the forest will be for moose may depend on how hot or how long the fire burned in any particular area. [The DNR’s Steve] Merchant expects the affected land will be a mix of areas that didn’t burn and areas that burned a lot. That means that in a few years, moose will have both new growth for food while less-burned and untouched areas where tall trees still stand will offer cover against the winter cold and summer heat. ‘That interspersion is what really creates that ideal moose habitat,’ Merchant said.”

Budget cutting will save more than a few northern Minnesota wolves from any early demise. A UPI story says: “A lack of money will end a federal program that has quietly trapped and killed thousands of wolves in northern Minnesota in the past 33 years, officials said. The program had targeted wolves near where livestock and pets were being killed and had the approval of farmers, conservation leaders, wolf lovers, natural resource officials and politicians of both parties.”

Two hundred and sixty-two feet is one honkin’ big sign. And the Minneapolis Planning Commission isn’t too pleased with it. The Strib’s Eric Roper says: “Minneapolis’ mammoth liquor store east of the river, Surdyk’s, wants to install a moving sign so large that city planners say it could pose a public safety hazard. The City Planning Commission is slated to discuss Surdyk’s proposed 262-square-foot ‘dynamic sign’ facing University Ave. at their meeting on Monday. In a staff report, city planners wrote that the sign, ‘over 8 times greater than what the Zoning Code allows, would be detrimental to or endanger the public health, safety, comfort or general welfare.’ They specify that it would be ‘a distraction for passing motorists’ and set a ‘precedent for businesses desiring large dynamic signs.’ What does the sign look like? We don’t have a picture, but the top half displays the name of their business in white against a red background, while the bottom half ‘would be of changing programming.’ “

“Food waste anaerobic digester.” That’s a name I could have used for my boys when they were teenagers. Lisa Gibson on the Biomass Thermal website writes: “An 8-megawatt anaerobic digester that would run on a mix of food processing waste including sweet corn silage and potato and bean waste is proposed for the southeast Minnesota town of Le Sueur. … The plant will supply power to Le Sueur, as well as produce a solid biofuel from the used digestate, dried using waste heat from the gensets, Dahlen said. The plant will be capable of producing between 7,500 and 15,000 tons per year.”

Anoka-Hennepin’s task force on bullying didn’t include … teachers … or counselors … or students? Sarah Horner at the PiPress says: “When the Anoka-Hennepin School District formed a student anti-bullying task force this summer, its members were three public relations experts, a lawyer, a prevention specialist and seven others. Missing were the teachers who deal with students daily. ‘Why would you have public relations people on a task force to stop bullying?’ district teacher Jefferson Fietek asked. ‘Where are the people who actually interact with students?’ Also not included were school counselors and students.”

A Mound mother writes an open letter to Our Favorite Congresswoman in today’s Strib. Melissa Castino Reid says: “I caught it on the news that you visited a meatpacking plant in Iowa last week and promised to reduce restrictions that ensure food safety, so that small businesses could create more jobs. I am adamantly opposed to this idea. According to CNN, the European outbreak of E. coli has killed 16 people; the New York Times reports an even higher number. To loosen rules for the meatpacking industry invites danger to innocent victims — like my 4-year-old daughter, Rachel. Thanks to E. coli, my daughter has lived in a hospital since June 11. Thanks to E. coli, she experienced acute kidney failure. Thanks to E. coli, she has also suffered a stroke, resulting in a brain injury on both hemispheres. She has lost her ability to walk, talk and move in a normal way.”

But, of course, Our Gal would actually have to be on the job in Washington at some point to do anything about all those gummint regulations. Brett Neely at MPR notes: “A heavy travel schedule is part of life on the campaign trail. But that also means less time for Bachmann in Washington, and her job as a member of the House of Representatives. According to House records, the congresswoman has missed 58 percent of the roll call votes since July 1, when her presidential campaign went into high gear. Bachmann did return to Washington on Sept. 8 for President Barack Obama’s jobs speech before a joint session of Congress. Weather delayed her arrival in the Washington, D.C., area so she missed the speech. But Bachmann did deliver a rebuttal in the House TV studio shortly afterward.”

As you might expect, Bachmann bete noire Karl Bremer, on his “Ripple in Stillwater” blog, takes a lusty swing at this news: “The votes Bachmann has missed aren’t inconsequential little matters. As noted here earlier, Bachmann skipped voting on the 2012 Intelligence Authorization Act, even though she is assigned to the House Intelligence Committee, and partied with Iowa football fans at 9 a.m. the next morning instead. That same day, Bachmann also missed the House’s solemn remembrance of 9/11 and passage of a resolution commemorating the terrorist attacks that day. Bachmann gets a lot of campaign mileage out of bashing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), one of her favorite whipping boys. Last month, Bachmann pledged to lock the doors and turn out the lights at the ‘job-killing EPA.’ So last week, one would think she’d be the ‘tip of the spear,’ as she likes to call herself, to pass H.R. 2401, which calls for analyses of ‘the cumulative and incremental impacts of covered rules and actions of the EPA concerning air, waste, water, and climate change for each of calendar years 2016, 2020, and 2030.’ … But when it came time to hold the EPA accountable for its ‘job-killing’ policies, Bachmann was nowhere near the voting button in the House chambers. Instead, she was in Nashville on September 23 being introduced at a campaign rally by her high-flying pal Pastor Mac Hammond.”                                 

Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 09/30/2011 - 09:29 am.

    I’m sure it’s a big sign, Brian, but 262 SQUARE feet is quite a bit different from 262 LINEAR feet, which is what your first line implies.

  2. Submitted by Hudson Leighton on 09/30/2011 - 09:41 am.

    I would love to see Ms. Bachmann’s voting statistics since she was elected compared to a “average” member of the House.

    Also number of bills introduced and number of bills that passed.

  3. Submitted by James Hamilton on 09/30/2011 - 11:31 am.

    I’m not privy to the thought process involved in putting together the Anoka-Hennepin task force, but I can see the value in having three people who may have some effective ideas on how to get the message out that bullying is not tolerated. Of course, the task force will first have to adopt that position. A lawyer’s presence makes sense as well, if the lawyer is there to advise what the district can and can’t do, it’s exposure for what it does or doesn’t do, etc. We aren’t told anything about the backgrounds of the final seven members.

    The absence of student, teacher, or counselor is troubling, however.

  4. Submitted by James Hamilton on 09/30/2011 - 11:37 am.

    Simply stating the size of the sign, as the Stib piece does, provides no context from which the reader can make any rational decision on its suitability. Is it on top of a building? At what height? How far back from the street will it be? Some argue that all dynamic signs should be outlawed, but I’ve yet to see anyone cite a study supporiting the argument that they create a safety hazard. Are there any?

  5. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/30/2011 - 11:57 am.

    I would love to see Ms. Bachmann’s voting statistics since she was elected compared to the 12 years since my representative, Betty McCollum was first elected.

    Also a comparison of the number of bills introduced and number of bills that passed would be highly entertaining.

  6. Submitted by Cecil North on 09/30/2011 - 01:43 pm.

    Since you asked, Tom, Michelle has missed 328 votes in her career (4 years, 9 months), putting her in the 94th percentile. Betty has missed 216 votes in her career (10 years, 9 months), putting her in the middle of the pack. Isn’t it nice to have a representative in MN4 who actually shows up to work at the job taxpayers pay her to do?


  7. Submitted by Sue Halligan on 10/01/2011 - 03:39 pm.

    Thank you, Cecil.

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