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Loggers receive Temporary Restraining Order

A Koochiching County District Court Judge issued a temporary restraining order early this morning against the state of Minnesota that allows logging to continue in state forests during the government shutdown.

Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources had halted timber harvesting on state land in the event of a government shutdown, despite having valid contracts to complete the work with hundreds of loggers statewide. Three loggers - Kit Hasbargen, Keith Hasbargen, and Dale Erickson, all of Birchdale - asked the Court to issue the temporary restraining order, allowing the work to continue. The three loggers are members of the Minnesota Timber Producers Association.

In granting the temporary restraining order, Judge Charles LeDuc held that the loggers have not violated or breached any existing contracts and the state has no basis for suspending logging operations. Judge LeDuc ruled loggers in the state can continue current harvesting operations in state forests, but that no new harvesting operations can be started.

"The judge rightly saw that these contracts are valid and the state can't keep this work from being completed," said Wayne Brandt, executive vice-president of the Minnesota Timber Producers Association. "On behalf of all loggers in our state, I thank the judge for allowing these companies to continue the work that is vital to the economic health of our state, as well as to the health of our forests."

In his argument to the court, plaintiffs' attorney Steve Shermoen said suspension of logging contracts would cause "immediate irreparable harm" to his clients' businesses.

A hearing for a temporary injunction against the state on this matter is scheduled for July 11, 2011 in Koochiching County Court.