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Plans for thousands of trees removed near Greenwood Fire

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ISABELLA, MN -- Thousands of trees are piled up along Highway 1 near Isabella.

In the past month, at least six local logging contractors from Minnesota stepped up to help fight the Greenwood Fire.

James McFarland, a natural resources staff officer for the Superior National Forest, said the pile of trees was put there by contractors to create a shaded fuel break to slow the spread of the Greenwood Fire.

They used 30 pieces of heavy equipment to clear shaded fuel brakes along the Stony River Grade Road and Highway 1.

"The result of that is all this timber that is sitting here, so this material came from the work that is being done on those two roadways," McFarland said. "We also have one more location that the material is decked at."

McFarland estimates they have 2,000 cords of wood.

With all this timber, there is now a plan to make sure it is properly repurposed.

The U.S. Forest Service plans to advertise the wood so it can be used by local manufacturers.

"We're hoping to have this wood advertised through the DNR's permitting process in the near future so that this wood can go to the forest product manufacturers in the local area," McFarland said.

The timber can be purchased by the contractors; some of who volunteered to help create the shaded fuel breaks in the first place.

"We recognize that this can be an eyesore for some folks and having all this material here can be a hazard into the future, so we really do want to see it go to a good cause," McFarland said.

Shaded fuel breaks clear out many of the fuels so the fire would not be able to spread as easily if it reaches that point.

It also allows heavy machinery and trucks to get through the area.

Shaded fuel breaks are one of the many ways firefighters can battle the flames.

"They use the machinery to clear through here," McFarland said. "We also had hand crews coming through. There's some mulch material in here that did some mulching and they get the brush, and they get the large material out of the way so that if they do need to set fire to kind of provide some protective space they do have that ability to do so."

McFarland said removing the trees was a necessary step to stop the fire's spread, and selling it to local contractors ensures they will not get wasted.

The timber for sale was not burned by the fire, so it can be used to make paper, boards, and other lumber products.

The DNR expects contracting permits to be available in the coming weeks.

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Kendall Jarboe

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