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Arts group contemplates use of wood from cut elms

Downed elm trees in Grand Marais 11-06-19 Photo by Joe Friedrichs
Downed elm trees in Grand Marais 11-06-19 Photo by Joe Friedrichs

As reported last week, the elm trees marked for removal in the upcoming Highway 61 reconstruction project were cut down Nov. 6.  

Clearing of trees and vegetation along the Highway 61 in Cook County was done in preparation for the 2020-21 highway reconstruction project. KGM Contractors, the road construction company for the project, is performing the tree clearing.

Nine of 11 elm trees in the section of Highway 61 between Voyageur Brewery and Buck’s Hardware were removed last week.  

The city of Grand Marais heard from many citizens asking that the trees be saved, or at the least left standing for a year closer to the road project in 2020. The city council asked MnDOT what it would cost to delay the tree cutting for a year.

At an Oct. 30 meeting, City Administrator Mike Roth shared MnDOT’s reply. Roth said the extra expense to the city would be approximately $4,600.

After some discussion, with Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux absent, there was no motion to direct MnDOT to postpone cutting down the elm trees, which cleared the way for the clearing.

There were protests, online and on the street leading up to the takedown of the elm trees. Hear some comments from the scene downtown in this interview.

In addition to pleas to save the elm trees, another question that WTIP has heard repeatedly is: What will happen to the wood from the elm trees?

WTIP’s Rhonda Silence checked in with someone who has a tentative answer, Mary Somnis, director of the Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority. Here’s what we know.