In July 2016 two severe windstorms caused extensive damage in Duluth and surrounding area forests including wind-thrown trees. The St. Louis County Land and Minerals Department is responsible for managing tax forfeit lands, including managing for healthy and productive forests. In August 2016 the St. Louis County Land and Minerals Department was notified by the City of Duluth of a storm damaged area on tax forfeit property adjacent to and within Hartley Park located in section 3 of Township 50 Range 14. Land and Minerals Department officials toured the site at the request of the City on September 7, 2016 to assess wildfire risk and discuss options for risk mitigation. Personnel from the Land and Minerals Department, City of Duluth Parks and Fire Department, and DNR Forestry attended the tour. The visit confirmed that there is severe storm damage across a parcel of tax forfeit property west of Hartley Park and that the damage extends onto City property within Hartley Park. City Fire and DNR Forestry officials indicated that the storm damage created heavy fuel loads in areas and that there is a concern about the wildfire risk posed by these fuels.
Further investigations, including an aerial assessment by the City and ground assessment by the County, led to a more complete understanding of the broader extent of damage in this area (Figure 1). 35 Acres East of Howard Gnesen Road were damaged. This area consists of a mix of Tax Forfeited, City of Duluth and Ridgeview Country Club property. In addition, approximately 200 acres of tax forfeit land west of Howard Gnesen Road were impacted. Small pockets of wind-throw could be seen extending east into Hartley Park. The extent of damage elevated concern of wildfire risk and raised concerns about the health and productivity of these forests.
Howard Gnesen Salvage Treatment Plan (Full Plan)