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Pequot Lakes: Fire tower closed to public

Echo Journal File Photo The 100-foot-tall Pequot Lakes fire tower is closed to the public.

The Pequot Lakes fire tower off County State Aid Highway 11 is no longer open for people to climb for a sprawling view of the area from high above the treetops.

Keith Simar, a retired Department of Natural Resources forester, addressed the Pequot Lakes City Council on Tuesday, June 6, saying the DNR has said it won't do anything in the immediate future to take down the fire tower, but the state agency is open to another entity taking over management of the site.

Simar spent recent wildfire seasons manning the fire tower as a volunteer before it was closed because of vandalism and maintenance costs. The decision not to reopen the tower to the public was made this spring, though people can still hike up to the tower site. Simar said the DNR division in charge of the tower has no budget for maintenance and supervision.

"I'm just trying to make folks aware that at some point it would be nice to have that fire tower available to the public. It certainly is a tourist attraction. It has historic value," Simar said, asking the council to think about it.

The 100-foot-tall tower was built in 1934 and sits on 40 acres. Nominated for the National Register of Historic Places, the tower received needed approval at the state level and now is being considered at the national level.

"I think we should do everything we can to maintain that in the city," said council member Mimi Swanson.

The council took no action.

"My thought is that the DNR doesn't seem to be in any big hurry to transfer ownership or responsibility so I will back off but continue to look for opportunities," Simar said by phone after the council meeting.

Simar also addressed the council about the forest management plan for the Mayo Lake Nature Preserve. He said that plan recommends a commercial timber harvest, and he believed that would have a visual impact the community wouldn't tolerate.

There has been storm damage in the preserve with broken branches and trees down. Simar said he talked to neighbors there who would be willing to clean up the area as volunteers. The council was receptive to the idea.

Council members Scott Pederson and Randy Loukota were absent June 6.