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Thumbs up, thumbs down

Welcome to the final newspaper of 2023. For the first time in our five-year history, the Pine Knot News will be closed for a week, taking off the final week of the year, meaning there will be a two-week gap until the publishing of the Jan. 5 edition.

Creating a newspaper every week is a labor of love for all of us at the Pine Knot News, but it’s labor all the same. We could use the breather, but not before we tell you how much we appreciate your readership and support.

In the five years since we printed our first edition in October 2018, we’ve created so many friendships with our readers and heard from so many of you. You tell us how important it is to have a local news source — one with a hometown office where folks can interact with newsgathering and the business conducted by the newspaper.

One of the favorite things we hear is from those who say, “I read it every week, cover to cover.” What happens in our communities in Carlton County matters deeply to us, because we know it matters to you. So, before we take the first of what will likely be an annual holiday break, we deliver this THUMBS UP to all of you.

THUMBS UP to Carlton and Wrenshall schools moving ahead with consolidation. It’s important to note how the districts got here this time: through the actions of students participating together in the cooperative sports and activities between the schools that started this year. The students have proven that they belong together, by supporting each other and working in unison as teams. Pride and the stuffiness of adulthood have seemed to be the hangups throughout a long history of consolidation talks. This time, people have been able to see how well the students get along, how when put together they mesh and reveal that the barriers we build up in our world are sometimes only in our heads. It’s a welcome thing to be led by the most innocent among us. They have much to teach us, and, in this case, the adults in the boardrooms are wisely listening, learning and acting in kind.

THUMBS DOWN to the vitriol that’s getting in the way of an important development in deer hunting. The new lobbying group, Hunters For Hunters, is striving for a wolf management hunt and doing so by barnstorming across northern Minnesota, conducting meetings that attract hundreds of people at a time. The group drew roughly 300 folks in Carlton earlier this month.

The group is capitalizing on a substandard deer hunting season that seemed to yield as many wolf complaints as deer sightings.

Hunters For Hunters earned attention by rightly giving credibility to the observations of hunters and landowners. But the group’s overall bluster and bashing of Democrats and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, as well as the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, is unwarranted and heavy-handed. The group seems to think that instead of opening doors in the halls of power, it can merely bust them down.

Additionally, when the group’s leadership repeatedly emphasizes that it needs “men” willing to take the fight to legislative halls, it is undercutting a long-held societal goal of recruiting new hunters, including women and girls, into the sport. Hunters For Hunters has our attention, but it needs to do better and shouldn’t ignore science.

THUMBS UP to Carlton County for agreeing to do its part to help reintroduce elk to northern Minnesota. The county board voted this month to allow remote land west of Cloquet to be used to create a holding pen, where small groups of elk will acclimate before being released to the wild starting in 2026.

Using $4 million allocated by the state legislature, the DNR and Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa are orchestrating the elk reintroduction effort, which they say will take at least 10 years to create a robust herd of 150 animals or more.

We’re eager to hear elk bugling, see a calving season unfold, and watch our communities benefit from the ecotourism many suspect will result.

Of course, we’ll need to be prepared. Landowners and farmers will need to be supported, and drivers alerted in any number of ways. But in lending its support, the county board agreed with a credible survey that indicates a wide majority of us in northeastern Minnesota want to see the animals returned to our forests and lands.

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