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Red pines cut along I-35

A number of red pine trees along southbound I-35, just across from Pine Hill Golf Course, were recently cut by vandals, according to John Bray of the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

A number of red pine trees along southbound I-35, just across from Pine Hill Golf Course, were recently cut by vandals, according to John Bray of the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

"This crime happened sometime close to June 9," said Bray, "and most likely happened after dark, since the people who do these things generally do so under the cover of darkness."

Bray explained the six large red pines were cut down and left lying strewn about the ground. The trees varied in size from 10-12 inches in diameter and he estimated them to be between 15-35 years old.

"These were landscape trees that were planted in conjunction with the construction of I-35 in order to beautify that part of Carlton County," said Bray.

Bray estimated the replacement value of the trees to be in the range of $3,500, with the cost of the removal of the vandalized trees and cleanup of the site estimated at an additional $1,500.

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"The total cost to the taxpayers of Minnesota for this criminal act will be around $5,000," he said. "This large sum puts this crime into a felony category."

Bray said since the trees were left to lie where they fell, the now-dead trees will need to be removed in a timely manner so they do not endanger the rest of the stand of red pine, which could be attacked by pine bark beetles that could infest the fallen trees.

"It is our intention that our Assistant District Engineer for Highway Operations, Duane Hill, will soon be contacting Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake about this criminal activity. We also will be advising the Minnesota attorney general's office about this criminal damage to public property. Should the perpetrator(s) be apprehended, the Minnesota attorney general's office will work with the Carlton County attorney's office relative to prosecution of the criminal suspects to the fullest extent of the law."

Anyone with information about this act of vandalism should contact Captain Steve Stromback, commander of District 2700 of the Minnesota State Patrol, at 218-723-4889 or e-mail him at: steve.stromback@state.mn.us .

"Hopefully, someone may come forward with information that will help us apprehend and prosecute the vandal(s)," concluded Bray.

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