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Gypsy moth training scheduled

On May 28, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is hosting information sessions in advance of the gypsy moth quarantine scheduled to go into effect in Lake and Cook counties on July 1.

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The workshop must be attended by anyone wishing to obtain a permit to move logs and firewood from the quarantined counties to other parts of the state. Those hauling these products will be responsible for inspecting loads for gypsy moth egg masses before transport.

The invasive gypsy moth has been found in large numbers in Lake and Cook counties and the quarantine will regulate the movement of wood and other products out of the counties.

The Lake County workshop will be from 8 to 9:30 a.m. at the Lake County Law Enforcement Center, 601 3rd Ave., Two Harbors. Register by visiting Call Nate Eide, Lake County land commissioner, at 834-8340 or for more information.

At a May 13 Lake County Board of Commissioners meeting, Eide said he expects loggers and firewood sellers to feel the biggest impact from the quarantine. Places that process wood, like Louisiana-Pacific in Two Harbors, won’t be affected as much, he said.

“(Officials) are still kind of ironing out the details for firewood, but that will affect our loggers for sure,” he said. Of the quarantine, Eide said that the MDA is “doing their best to make it not slow down business.”

According to Eide, documents related to the quarantine state that unprocessed wood, including firewood, may only be moved out of the county within the first couple weeks of July. Commissioner Rick Goutermont said he is worried about how the tight timelines will affect firewood producers.

“Everything you cut all winter long, you have a couple weeks in July to deliver,” Goutermont said.

Since transport is not regulated within quarantined areas, Goutermont said that if and when St. Louis County is put under quarantine, it will be business as usual. Firewood producers won’t have to worry about the regulations if they are only delivering to St. Louis and Cook counties. Until then, the quarantine will be a burden.

“It’s got to get worse before it gets better for us,” Goutermont said.

Lake and Cook counties are 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.

Settlement agreement signed with Frontier

One of the county’s pole disputes has been resolved.

The board approved a settlement agreement with Frontier Communications to end a pole attachment dispute filed with the Federal Communications Commission in relation to the broadband project.

In 2012, Lake County, doing business as Lake Connections, embarked on a project to create a fiber optic network in the county. This project, which is largely funded by federal grants and loans awarded in 2010, involves stringing fiber optic cable on existing utility poles, some of which are owned by local municipalities, others by communications companies like Frontier.

In November, the county filed a complaint with the FCC asking the commission to help resolve a conflict that erupted over where Lake Connections’ copper and fiber optic cable may be placed on Frontier-owned poles. This is just one of many disagreements that have surfaced between the two entities since the broadband project got underway.

According to a Lake Connections press release issued last fall, the county filed the complaint “based on Frontier’s demand that, as the incumbent telephone company, it is entitled to the bottom position on all utility poles and Lake County must pay to move Frontier’s existing copper cables down on all utility poles, while placing Lake Connections’ new fiber optic cable above Frontier’s cables.”

The settlement resolves this dispute. By press time, County officials had not responded to Lake County News- Chronicle’s data request for documentation about the agreement.

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