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County continues work on septic rules

Lake County officials say they hope to have a new septic system ordinance by the beginning of next year.

The Minnesota Legislature has mandated that counties update their ordinances by Feb. 4, but according to Lake County administrator Matt Huddleston, only about half of them have done so. He said he doesn’t expect state officials to be upset about the delay as long as the county is working on it.

“As long as we’re working towards it and plan to have it updated, I don’t see a pushback,” he said.

During Tuesday’s county board meeting, Huddleston said the planning commission has been working its way through the previous draft from 2010 and ordinances other counties have passed. St. Louis County approved its new ordinance on Wednesday.

Huddleston estimated that the ordinance would be passed by the end of 2014, or early 2015. Public meetings to gather input on the draft are required and will be held before the ordinance is approved.

ARDC trails plan nearly complete

After more than a year and a half of work, the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission is nearly finished with a comprehensive trails plan for the county. The plan will help prioritize projects, identify needs and improve connectivity with other trail systems.

Andy Hubley of ARDC addressed the commissioners on Tuesday with a summary of the plan. According to ARDC, the county trail system is lacking in four ways. The ATV trails aren’t easily accessible, trails in the City of Two Harbors are not well connected to county trails, there could be more road and mountain biking options and effective marketing is a necessity.

The plan includes strategies to address these gaps and even possible funding sources.

Connecting city and county trails has been on the docket for years, according to Hubely, and addressing that issue would make Lake County a more appealing destination.

“It’s not a marketable trails system (now),” Huddleston said. “It’s just a hodgepodge of trails.”

The trails plan requires no action but is an outline for commissioners to draw on when making future decisions. The first draft of the plan is available at

The board also threw its support behind the proposed Prospector’s Loop in a tangible way. The commissioners issued a resolution of support for the 115-mile ATV trail that would connect four Iron Range towns.

The county also voted to act as a fiscal agent by signing a grant application for the trail.

Ron Potter, a retired Minnesota Department of Natural Resources employee and member of the Prospector ’s Loop board, was at the meeting. He said it makes sense to combine the county’s ATV trail efforts with those of the Trail Prospectors Alliance.

County issues opinion on gypsy moth quarantine

The commissioners also approved the county’s official comments on the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s proposed gypsy moth quarantine on Lake and Cook counties. The invasive species has been found in large numbers in Lake and Cook counties and the quarantine would regulate the movement of wood and other products out of the counties. It’s slated to go into effect in April.

The written comments, which will be sent to the MDA, say that the quarantine puts a disproportionate burden on the timber producers compared to the risk of movement. MDA officials have said that tourists are most likely to spread gypsy moths, but compliance agreements will only affect businesses.

“Just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do,” said Land Commissioner Nate Eide.

The second comment suggests that, if the quarantine is instituted, the northern part of the county should be excluded, since no traps in that area caught more than six moths in 2013. The comments say quarantining this area will significantly affect loggers there.

“Our comments are framed by the philosophy of Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of the United States Forest Service, where we protect and use our natural resources as best as possible with the greatest good for the greatest number for the longest time,” reads the letter.

Lake and Cook counties would be the first in Minnesota to be put under quarantine. Most of the northeastern U.S. is already under quarantine along with all of Michigan and most of Wisconsin.

LaReesa Sandretsky
LaReesa Sandretsky is a Two Harbors High School graduate and Duluth native who began working at the News-Chronicle in 2012 as a reporter. She took over as editor in 2014. She covers County Board, including the Lake County broadband project.
(218) 834-2141