Minnesota DNR Foresters Blew Up Illegal Tree Stands with Dynamite

by Vern Evans

A series of blasts shocked residents of a rural area north of Deer River, Minnesota, roughly six weeks ago. The source? State foresters with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources using dynamite to decimate two enclosed deer stands built illegally on trees in Bowstring State Forest. The explosions were strong enough to knock the drink off resident Jim Fena’s countertop, he tells Outdoor Life

“I live less than a mile from there,” Fena says. “It was late morning or early afternoon, and I thought it was a jet breaking a sound barrier. I didn’t really know what it was. But the windows rattled and the can of Coke fell off the bar. My whole place shook. I didn’t know what it was until the next day when someone happened to ask if I felt the shaking, and they said it was the DNR blowing up the deer stands.”

Fena was curious to see the site of the explosion, but grew frustrated when he found piles of debris still littering the ground, including what he says was the detonator cord for the dynamite.

“I want to make something clear; I have no beef with the DNR removing the deer stands,” he says. “They weren’t my deer stands. If they were illegal that’s perfectly fine, I don’t have any issue with them removing them. I just object to the way they removed them. They shouldn’t have been using dynamite. There has to be a better way than that, better for the environment, better for the surrounding area. It looks like hell. The wood’s all splintered. There’s nuts and bolts and nails blown and strewn all over the place. I don’t think it was appropriate.”

Fena knows the man who owned the stands, which had stood in Bowstring State Forest illegally for over a decade, as the Duluth News Tribune reported Wednesday. The man fears repercussions and hasn’t come forward to claim ownership of the stands at this time. The News Tribune also reports that he’s an enrolled member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, and that the land in question is within the Leech Lake Reservation.

“After repeated efforts to contact the owner of the stands and a conversation with a relative of the owner, DNR forestry staff demolished the stands,’’ DNR officials told the News Tribune. “While staff took the safety steps of blocking access to the area, confirming there were no other landowners immediately adjacent to the site, and notifying the appropriate authorities, the method of demolition did not follow DNR policy or reflect good judgment. We are evaluating the situation and will take appropriate follow-up measures.”

Fena pointed out that, had a resident been the one to possess or use dynamite in a state forest, which is illegal, the agency would face consequences for their behavior.

“I would expect that if anyone’s going to follow the law, it should be them.”

Read the full article here

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