County Lands, Agriculture and Forestry Committee

 

Joseph Allen

Bernie Blackmore Chairman

Eugene Dawson

 

Minutes – February 27, 2006

Members Present:

 

Bernie Blackmore and Gene Dawson

Members Absent:

 

Joe Allen

Staff Present:

 

Joe Meyers

Others Present:

 

Todd Vigland, Janet Person and Mike Meriwether

1.         Meeting called to order at 9:02 a.m. 

2.         Public Comment

 

None. 

3.         Forestry Update

 

Mike Meriwether, County Forester, gave an update on projects relating to forestry in the County.  Mr. Meriwether informed the Committee that the Alba Road and M-66 property in Chestonia Township would be receiving $5,000 in damages very soon.  Mr. Meriwether also noted that the Lewis Road timber sale in Echo Township is ongoing. 

 

Discussion ensued over the 340 acre parcel off Orchard Hill Road in Forest Home Township.  Mr. Meriwether noted that the oil company, SRW, Inc., obtained a non-developmental lease with the State of Michigan for those county owned properties.  Currently, SRW would like to have the property re-classified as a leasable developmental.  SRW would like to have three to five wells on the property and the development sites would be the parts classified as leasable developmental.  Mr. Meriwether noted that they would be willing to put in a road that could be used for timber management at their expense.  Mr. Meriwether further noted that the road is a high priority but very expensive.  Mr. Meriwether presented a letter regarding the County supporting the reclassification. 

 

Motion by Gene Dawson, supported by Bernie Blackmore, to recommend the Board of Commissioners approve signing and sending a letter to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources supporting the reclassification of the above stated property.  Motion carried – unanimous.

4.          Sevald Property

 

Mr. Meriwether and Todd Vigland, Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, addressed the Committee about the Sevald Property.  Mr. Vigland informed the Committee that the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund seemed uneasy with the County/Township application last year and further noted that the Township would try for another grant for a smaller portion of the land without the County.  Mr. Meriwether noted that it could be in the county’s best interest to purchase 180 acres of the land to connect the 438 acres of land the County currently owns that is fragmented.  Mr. Vigland noted that the asking price for the property is $2,200 an acre and the land is appraised at $2,522.  The price would be $396,000 and Mr. Meriwether gave a few options on how to supplement that price tag.

  1. Cut every tree over 12 inches on the property.
  2. Have the County buy the property out right if Mr. Meriwether figures out a way to bring that much revenue back to the county.
  3. Potentially work with a company to have them buy the property and deed it over to us for 396,000 in timber.

 

Bernie Blackmore indicated that Mr. Meriwether work on this project and continues to report back to the County Lands , Agriculture and Forestry Committee. 


5.          Forestry Contract

 

Mr. Blackmore informed the Committee that the Board of Commissioners asked them to review the Memorandum of Understanding.  Mr. Blackmore indicated that the Commissioners would like to know how much the forestry program costs the County. 

 

Mr. Meriwether informed the Committee that the Antrim Conservation District (ACD) receives a $50,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Agriculture for his wages.  Mr. Meriwether further noted that the 75% of revenues from timber sales was given to the ACD to protect the funds.  Mr. Meriwether further noted that the ACD has been authorized to spend any of the money from the timber sales on the basic functions of the District.   Mr. Meriwether also indicated that it was important to have money in the ACD’s forestry budget if the grants for his position ended.  

 

Mr. Blackmore indicated that the Commissioners were concerned about the ACD taking 75% of damages from oil and gas companies.  Janet Person indicated that this was due to a motion about 1 ½ years ago.  Ms. Person apologized for forgetting to put that in the contract. 

 

Mr. Meriwether noted that 85% of his time was spent helping residents with their private forestland questions.  Mr. Meriwether indicated that the County might want to consider a County Forester/Parks Manager. 

6.           Communications   

 

None.

7.            Member/Public Comment

 

Ms. Person indicated that this would be her last meeting and noted that she has enjoyed working with them.

Meeting adjourned at 9:45 a.m.