LEADER-The Soo Line Trail bridge at Federal Dam will be replaced in the location it always has been, Cass County commissioners decided Tuesday, June 18.

That bridge was destroyed by fire last fall.

The trail runs north-south on the east side of the city. County State Aid Highway 8 runs north-south on the west side of the city. After the trail bridge burned last fall, the county kept the trail open through the winter by re-routing it through the city and north along the County Highway 8 shoulder.

Last fall, the county considered making that a permanent solution, but Federal Dam City Council by spring decided the shoulders along Highway 8 are too narrow to safely handle recreational vehicle traffic.

The new bridge at the original site has been estimated to cost about $657,000. County recreational trails funds and a $170,000 Polaris grant through the National Forest Foundation will pay for it.

Tuesday, the board authorized seeking bids.

The board also named a new subcommittee of Commissioners Bob Kangas and Jeff Peterson to study how to address the rising cost of snow groomers for recreational trails. The cost for those has risen significantly.

Currently, the county accepts state grant-in-aid trails money and pays portions of that to snowmobile clubs and one ski club to groom and keep open the county's trail system.

The grant-in-aid money currently will not cover the higher groomer cost to enable each club to have its own groomer. The committee will look at ways to either share groomers among clubs or to consolidate clubs, so each groomer covers more miles of trails.

Cass County Land Department signed a new agreement with NEPCon of Tartu, Estonia, to have that firm complete future certifications and audits of the county's forest management as being sustainable.

The new agreement was necessitated by the fact NEPCon purchased the Rainforest Alliance, which has done Cass' certification and audit for many years.

In other land department business Tuesday, the board:

Awarded contracts to survey county land boundaries to Stonemark Land Surveying for $12,200 at sites in Meadowbrook and Moose Lake townships and to Nyberg Surveying for $10,600 at sites in Deerfield and Walden townships.

Awarded contracts to Northfork Bounders and Excavating to mow these forest trails: $1,665 for Cut Lake/Hiram, $1,079 for Snow Flea/Mayo Creek, $3,439 for Vermillion/Thunder Hollow/Washburn/Old Grade and $979 for Homebrook Walking.

Learned the land department had 126,800 seedlings planted on 158 acres this spring.

This included 6,800 red pine on 8.5 acres in Homebrook, 4,000 red pine on 5 acres in Loon Lake, 68,000 jack pine on 85 acres in Poplar, 24,000 white pine on 30 acres in Bungo, 5,600 jack pine on 7 acres in Trelipe and 18,400 white spruce on 23 acres in Boy River townships.

Learned loggers paid $170,829 at a May 30 auction to cut timber on county land. All five tracts offered were sold. Loggers paid $40.99 per cord for aspen.