Gunflint Trail Land Exchange
At a County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, December 12th, the land exchange between the DNR and Larry DeWester was denied. This was great news for almost everyone involved except maybe Larry who eventually withdrew his proposal for the exchange.
Larry DeWester wanted to exchange his property near Hovland for some property along the Gunflint Trail. He owns approximately 440 acres that has been mostly cut-over and he wanted to trade it for 320 acres on the hillside of Grand Marais. The recreational property included in those 320 acres was enough to make almost everyone in the area stand on alert.
The people of Grand Marais and Cook County value their recreational land and the natural beauty of the area. The Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway wants to keep the Gunflint Trail Scenic for all of the visitors and residents of the area. There are ski trails, snowmobile trails and animal trails throughout the 320 acres and the public did not want to see it traded to an individual.
The meeting was packed with concerned citizens who opposed the trade. People thought Larry was crazy for submitting such a proposal to the DNR but stranger things have happened throughout the history of the area. Stranger things could still happen with this section 16 of the Gunflint Trail.
The DNR is still interested in making money on this highly valuable property. They are considering putting some of the property on the market. Talk of "some 40 acre parcels" was overheard and that was just as disturbing to the meeting attendees. I’m not sure when or if the DNR decided they need to make a profit from the natural resources that "they" own.
I’m not really sure of anything regarding the future of this property. I do know that Doug Rowlett from the DNR said that if we have questions or concerns then we should contact him through his email address at Douglas.Rowlett@dnr.state.mn.us. I also know that "public" land is being gobbled up at an alarming rate and I would hate to see this become the next meal.