Letter: Is 65-foot timber clearing really needed on Hwy 34?
MnDOT does have discretion on the width and amount of clearing, and the 65-foot “rule” is not and has not been enacted on some other state highways.
On Highway 34, between Becker County Road 29 and the Shell River, the Minnesota Department of Transportation has plans to clear trees in the 65-foot right-of-way zone this fall — for 21 miles on both sides of the highway.
Highway 34 is designated as a state scenic byway.
Of greatest concern is the seven-mile stretch between Snellman and Shell River to the east, where trees will be logged back 150 feet from the highway to the south in the Smoky Hills State Forest.
MnDOT does have discretion on the width and amount of clearing.
The 65-foot “rule” is not and has not been enacted on some other state highways.
For example, Highway 6 between Remer and Cohasset was both widened and resurfaced within the last two years. The adjoining trees were NOT cleared to 65 feet. In fact, no right-of-way clearing was done.
Here’s another example: Highways 71 and 200, on the east side of Itasca Park, where hundreds of pine trees were planted in the ditch back-slope many years ago. These pines have NOT been cleared to the 65-foot width, probably for scenic reasons.
I’m sure there are other state highways where scenic trees remain in the 65-foot zone.
Due to the variable terrain and hills along this stretch of Highway 34, and low sun angle in the winter, only extreme clearing would provide significant ice melt in the winter.
The public does not want to sacrifice scenic beauty for limited ice melt.
Timber sales are done for a good reason. A 21-mile contiguous stretch on this scenic highway is the wrong place for clearcut logging, and a drastic visual change.
Large logging equipment will need to operate in the ditch, to directionally fell the trees away from the highway. Large machinery will be needed since some of the trees are large. The larger the equipment, the greater the disturbance.
For safety reasons; however, dead, dying, and leaning trees should be thinned and removed.
Use discretion and restraint!