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Here we go again, this time it’s another SNA on Burntside Lake

Lead Summary

Three visitors to the Town of Morse monthly meeting likely didn’t get the reception they were looking for Tuesday night.
While the discussions were cordial the end result was a resolution opposing what had been brought before the board.
The DNR’s Lori Dowling-Hanson, Shaun Hamilton of the Trust for Public Land and David Kess pitched making yet another island on Burntside Lake a Scientific & Natural Area (SNA).
The Morse board was bypassed two years ago when Gaul Island left the tax roles and become an SNA. That was the pretext of the meeting Tuesday, to discuss what went wrong on the communication between the DNR and the township.
Instead, the trio brought another plan to remove some of the highest value real estate in northern Minnesota from the tax roles. While there would be some reimbursement through the PILT (payment of lieu of taxes), it won’t be equal to what would’ve been received and never as much if there had been improvements made.
Kess sold Gusty Island to the Trust for Public Lands in December of 2014 for $392,000. The Trust intends to sell it to the DNR which in turn would make it an SNA.
If you’ve never heard of an SNA, don’t worry, you wouldn’t be able to do much if you ever went to one. And we’ve got several in this area, including three (possibly soon to be four) islands on Burntside.
Here’s what you can’t do at an SNA:
• Go swimming.
• Pick blueberries.
• Bring your pet.
• Hunt or fish.
• Camp or even picnic.
Here’s what you can do:
• Hiking, bird-watching, nature photography, snowshoeing or other activities that do not disturb natural conditions are allowed.
The Morse supervisors were asked what their opinion was of putting a fourth island on Burntside into an SNA.
Len Cersine said he was opposed because there are plenty of places like that in the BWCA.
Bob Berrini said he was opposed and called adding more land to public ownership with restrictions is like a sickness that continues to spread.
Terry Soderberg said he was opposed and was shocked there was yet another proposal to take a piece of high value property off the tax roles. He pointed out there are one million acres of SNA right next door.
Gusty Island has not been put into an SNA at this time. That will need approval by the St. Louis County board.
And if the county board listens to the town board here, the proposal will meet the same fate as Tuesday night: rejection.

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