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Letter: DL tourism director concerned about MnDOT plans to cut trees along scenic Highway 34

In the seven miles from Snellman to the Shell River before Osage, MnDOT plans for a contractor to clear-cut all trees 55 feet along the south side of Highway 34, as well as 75% of trees in their right-of-way beyond the clear cutting. A virtual public meeting is set for Wednesday, Jan. 12.

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The Lake Country Scenic Byway along Highway 34 between Detroit Lakes and Park Rapids may see some extensive cutting of trees. (Park Rapids Enterprise file photo)

This letter is to make landowners along Highway 34 east of Detroit Lakes from Becker County Road 29 to Osage, visitors who travel the route, and concerned citizens aware of MnDOT’s virtual public meeting on a road resurfacing project that will include clear-cutting and selective logging of a substantial number of trees.

Highway 34 from Detroit Lakes to Park Rapids to Walker, with a spur to Itasca State Park along Highway 71, is the Lake Country Scenic Byway.

MnDOT’s scenic byway program designated the route as a scenic byway on May 26, 1999. This area is in a unique national transition zone where tallgrass prairie meets hardwood and conifer forests as one travels east.

In 2023, MnDOT is resurfacing (not widening) 21 miles of Highway 34 from Four Corners (County Road 29) to Osage.

MnDOT has stated that trees should be logged from the south side of Highway 34 to eliminate shading of the road surface and to reduce use of chemicals in the winter.

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In the seven miles from Snellman to the Shell River before Osage, MnDOT plans for a contractor to clear-cut all trees 55 feet along the south side of Highway 34, as well as 75% of trees in their right-of-way beyond the clear cutting.

Where MnDOT’s right-of-way is 250 feet, trees will not be removed from 125 feet to 250 feet. MnDOT is planning the tree cutting to start fall 2022 and into winter.

Since the selective logging in the right-of-way is planned to leave a diversity of only 25% of the trees, a great number of the stately red and white pine trees will be cut down. This area is also known for the many communities of the state flower, the Showy Lady’s Slipper, which is in the path of logging equipment and will be left without tree shading.

MnDOT’s virtual public meeting on this Highway 34 road resurfacing project is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 12 at 5:30 pm. This is your opportunity to ask questions and get the facts from MnDOT.

See project information and the meeting link at: https://www.dot.state.mn.us/d4/projects/hwy34/ .

(Cleone Stewart is tourism director at the Detroit Lakes Tourism Bureau and Regional Chamber of Commerce)

Related Topics: LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
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The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the Park Rapids Enterprise by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Park Rapids Enterprise. To submit a letter, email sgeisen@parkrapidsenterprise.com or mail it to Park Rapids Enterprise, 1011 1st. ST. E., Suite 6, Park Rapids, MN 56470.