Ottawa Forest Expansion: Land for lumber pact to add 220 acres

Kali Katerberg/Daily Mining Gazette The Ontonagon County Board hears Tuesday from Kenton District Ranger Barbara Van Olstein on a proposed land acquisition.

ONTONAGON — The County Board heard a proposal by the Ottawa National Forest to expand at its Tuesday meeting.

The commission heard a report from Kenton District Ranger Barbara Van Olstein on a proposed land acquisition for the Ottawa National Forest of 220 acres in a tripartite land exchange.

The land tripartite, or “land for timber” exchange would be the first in Ottawa National Forest history and involves the United States, a non-federal landowner and a timber sale contractor, according to the Ottawa National Forest briefing.

The funds for the land are generated from timber sales with the timber contractor paying for and cutting timber under contract, and the state acting as the broker in exchange for the land from the private owner.

The land in question is on the west side of Victoria Lake along the West Branch of the Ontonagon River, said Forest Supervisor Linda Jackson in a letter to the commission.

Commissioner Gray Webber expressed concern that the continued National Forest purchase of private land is making key waterways difficult for the public to access, as roads are neglected, shutting areas out from easy access.

However, approval from the board is not necessary or required. Instead, the forest is required to notify all counties within the forest boundary of the proposed exchange. A formal decision to go ahead with the tripartite land exchange will be from the forest supervisor, the briefing explained.

A feasibility analysis will be completed but has not yet occurred, Van Olstein said.