Coal Lake Project to be habitat haven
By Stu Merry, BHG News Service
A portion of Falkirk Mine land near Underwood is in line to become a home for habitat. Doug Stoltz, Randy Crooke, Jeremy Eckroth, and Jim Melchior representing North American Coal, along with Road Superintendent Ron Wagner, presented McLean County commissioners with an update on the Coal Lake Project. The group discussed the area’s proposed use as a wildlife management area, but some road issues remain to be resolved. Concerns were shared about driving and parking on a section line. There was concern that there wasn’t a parking area at this site. The other access areas have some parking available. Officials heard there is no traverse available by vehicle as the trail goes down into a coulee, which is then fenced with a walk-in gate on a Wildlife Management Area. But the area has parking. Concern was that if there wasn’t a trail on a section line that people would start making a trail. County officials heard it would be a few years to meet bond release criteria. When this takes place, the transfer of this land will take place to the Department of Transportation. The Game and Fish Department will be the actual managers of the land. The only restrictions will be that no center fire rifles will be allowed for a period of years until mining operations are away from the area. Also at the May 5 meeting, Director of Tax Equalization Lauren Hunze discussed increased property values in Garrison in regard to the Vanguard Appraisal software and procedures used in determining recent property valuations.