North Shore Resort Helping Stop Gypsy Moth

Updated: 05/23/2014 10:36 PM
Created: 05/23/2014 5:18 PM
By: Travis Dill

Campfires will be burning bright over Memorial Weekend, but moving firewood can spread invasive species like the Gypsy Moth. A resort owner in Lusten has a surefire way to keep the North Shore forests safe by kiln-drying his firewood.

Tourists will swarm resorts like Solbakken on Superior in Lutsen over the holiday weekend. The beauty of the North Shore pulls them in, and it's something owner David Howe appreciates too.

“Living in Cook County with my family it is such a beautiful area. It inspires me to be a better person,” Howe said.

That is why he bought a wood-drying kiln to provide safe firewood for everyone visiting this summer. The destructive gypsy moth has taken over Cook County, and Howe said drying the wood kills the invasive species before it can spread farther.

“We keep the firebox between 1,000 to 1,500 degrees. It circulates the air inside the wood chamber and we want to dry down the wood to 14 percent moisture, which is ideal for burning as well as it take out any invasive species,” Howe said.

He said all the wood used is from Cook County, and bundles sold at area stores help fuel the local economy. Another benefit is keeping employees working year-round.

“We have staff currently of 10 folks, and four of those would be laid off in the slower season, but we're hoping the business grows,” Howe said.

In an economy dominated by seasonal work, a stable job is a lifesaver according to the resort's maintenance director Jeffrey Tarver.

“It is key to surviving,” Tarver said. “If I was a seasonal worker I would probably, definitely have two or three jobs running back and forth.”

He said the kiln came in handy with the brutal subzero temperatures over the winter.

“With the heat crunch we had, the oil prices and propane and such we were able to provide dry firewood for the community where no one else had any,” Tarver said.

The Solbakken Resort is doing business that is good for the community, tourists and the beautiful environment that draws them to the North Shore.

Howe said the Minnesota Department of Agriculture will begin quarantining wood products in Cook and Lake Counties on July 1. He hopes to get certified with the department so his firewood can leave the county when the quarantine takes effect.

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