Aitkin County’s Natural Resource Advisory Committee met at Long Lake Conservation Center on April 12.

Committee members shared their comments on the draft revision of the Aitkin County Recreation Plan.

“Aitkin County’s ATV Trail became a trail of national significance because of that plan,” said County Land Commissioner Rich Courtemanche.


David Lange, Hill City, was elected vice chair of the committee; that means he will assume the chair position in April next year.


Dave McMillan was introduced as the new manager of the Long Lake Conservation Center.  McMillan told committee members that he considers himself a steward of the center, rather than a manager.

“It’s a wonderful place; a real jewel with a terrific mission,” he said.

McMillan grew up in Minnetonka and was a journalism major at Iowa State. He worked at a newspaper in Washington before coming back to work with the St. Paul Saints. McMillan worked at Grand Casino Mille Lacs as a copywriter and advertising manager for six years. He also worked for ad agencies that represent casinos around the country.

“The casino world can be challenging, so I ventured off  to be a high school teacher,” he said.

Now McMillan plans to get involved in marketing the many attributes of Long Lake Conservation Center.

McMillan has lived in Aitkin since 1999 with his wife Dory McMillan and is the father of two daughters, Ellie and Sarah. “I love golf, fishing and baseball,” he said.  

McMillan told committee members that he has reached a point in life where he can focus on the things that really interest him most in life – nature and people.

“Pretty much the job description of LLCC manager – I am honored to be here,” he said.


The committee considered an application from Aitkin Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Taylor Erickson to hold an event called Paddle Your Glass Off on Saturday, June 19. The event will start at the Kimball boat access on the Mississippi River north of Aitkin.


All-terrain vehicle training that will allow youth to ride ATVs on county trails will be held at Long Lake Conservation Center on May 15.  

ATV Clubs will provide training at no cost, so Franklin Turnock requested that LLCC be used again as the site of the training.

“There is a waiting list already for the training,” he said.

Trainees are not eligible to obtain a certificate until they turn 12 years old.

County Land Commissioner Rich Courtemanche said he plans to open the facility for the training and then have it cleaned and held vacant for several days afterward, in deference to COVID-19 safety precautions.

Committee members agreed to hold the training at the county’s expense; the online training is provided by Minnesota DNR at a cost of $24 to the trainee’s family.


The last agenda item was the annual audit of the county’s implementation of the Forest Stewardship Council standard. This third-party audit affirms the county’s forest resources are well managed according to this international standard for sustainable forest management.

There will be no field audit this year because of COVID-19, but was a Zoom meeting with an auditor from New Hampshire with many years of forest management auditing experience.

“There was almost a perfect audit, it’s the seventh year without a non-conformance,” said Assistant Aitkin County Land Commissioner Dennis Thompson. One observation the audit team made was that the county’s strategic and tactical forest management plans are due to be updated by the end of the year.

FSC is issuing new guidelines on pesticide use in forest management — there was a second observation asking the county to follow the new draft guidelines, in the event that pesticides are used in forest management. “The final report will be out in a couple of weeks,” said Thompson.

The next NRAC meeting will be Monday, May 10, at 6:30 p.m.

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