NEAR MENAHGA, Minn. - It didn't take long for the Green Valley Fire to tear through thousands of acres between Park Rapids and Menahga in May. It took firefighters days to battle it. Now, it's taking homeowners months to clean up and deal with the aftereffects of the fire. Priority number one is preserving the pines.
"The sign coming into Menahga says gateway to the pines," Mayor Pat Foss explained, surrounded by towering pines at Blueberry Pines Golf Club. He had just stepped out of a meeting with tree experts and DNR officials.
The stressed pines that remain on the fire line, many near the golf course, are the latest threat following the fire. "We've lost our home, we've lost over 1,500 trees," Marlene Snyder said, before explaining she didn't want to lose anymore of the precious pines on her property.
"There are some big concerns here. We're dealing with some bark beetle bugs that can possibly get out of control," she explained. Those beetles thrive on stressed, but still alive, pines, of which there are plenty in the Green Valley Fire zone.
"This is the scary part. If we don't do anything, how bad is it going to get?" Mayor Foss wondered.
So now there is urgency to get those stressed pines taken care of in the next month, before the beetle possibly infests the area. "The clean-up is critical and there is only so much equipment. We need the information out there, we need the structure, and we need the funds to do it," Snyder, who is also a tourist-dependent business owner, concluded.
The community is hoping that the area can get lumped into an upcoming, special legislative session at the state capitol where lawmakers will take up disaster relief.
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