Changes ahead for local National Historic Landmark
The DNR’s Fire Tower along County Road 11 between Pequot Lakes and Breezy Point, once a work site for forest rangers scanning the trees for signs of fire, has more recently been enjoyed by residents and visitors as an historic site rich with stories that harken back to the influence of area logging and Paul Bunyan. The hardy visitors, willing to battle gravity to climb to the top of the Tower, were rewarded with stunning views and a keener sense of what the work day of those past generations of fire-spotters might have been like.
It all changed on June 30, 2011, in what seemed a sudden action by the DNR. Following the installation of a chain-link fence and a locked gate, the landmark Fire Tower, part of the National Historic Lookouts Register, was closed to the public, citing a determination that it was now unsafe. Dave Branum of the Brainerd DNR office noted at the time, "The short-term plan is to put the fence up around the tower. The long-term plan for the tower site use is not yet determined."
That undetermined long-term plan is what motivated the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway Association to take on the task of helping facilitate the crafting of a long-term plan, tagged with the hope that ultimately the Tower can be reopened.
Spearheaded by PBSBA board member, Rod Nelson, the DNR was contacted and forester, Rebekah Luedtke, attended the Byway Association’s September board meeting, outlining what transpired to that point and offering to stay involved with the discussions.
On January 18, 2012, a meeting, set up and lead by Nelson, was held at the Breezy Point City Hall to gather input from all the involved parties, dividing the discussion into four categories: Issues, Local Concerns, Possible Solutions, Current Plans. Attendees represented the DNR, City of Pequot Lakes, City of Breezy Point and Crow Wing County Commissioners. A future meeting date is yet to be determined, allowing time for task group members to gather further information needed as a result of this first meeting’s productive discussion.