BWCA $20,000,000.00 grant for electricity in Sawbill area. Boundary Waters Listening Point - General Discussion
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      $20,000,000.00 grant for electricity in Sawbill area.     
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Maiingan
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11/24/2022 10:39AM  
The modern world has finally made it to the end of the Sawbill Trail, at the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Sawbill Canoe Outfitters reports that, after more than 66 years of operation, the business finally got connected to “the grid” last week. Located 24 miles north of Tofte, the remote location has long been powered solely by its own generators, solar, and wind.

Third-generation owners Clare and Dan Shirley say they are celebrating. Sawbill was founded in 1957 by Frank and Mary Alice Hansen, grandfather of current co-owner Clare, whose parents also operated the outfitter.

“It’s true, there is some romanticism about being off the grid, and we have learned a lot of tangential skills from it, but with a system of our size was more work and worry than romance,” Dan wrote in a recent blog post.

Dan pointed out one benefit they’re already experiencing: silence. Connecting to the grid has allowed them to turn off their diesel generators, restoring quiet to this peaceful place at the edge of the wilderness.

The connection includes both power and fiber internet cables. It required trenching cable for 9.5 miles from the nearest connection at an ARMER tower on The Grade. The project was made possible with a $20 million federal grant to Arrowhead Cooperative from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. The Sawbill connection is the first project completed, with more parts of rural Cook County to be connected in coming years.

While Sawbill has been able to use some carbon-free power sources, like solar and wind, they say they have been limited by their ability to store energy in batteries. Now, connected to the grid, they can continue generating renewable energy and simply sell the power back to the grid rather than store it.

And they can start focusing more of their time and energy on outfitting canoeists.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn how to troubleshoot a diesel engine and coax it back to life at 3am when it’s 30 below, but it’s not an experience I’ll miss,” Dan wrote Link to story

This will also bring highspeed internet to the campground. Wi-Fi calling and facetime!
 
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Mocha
distinguished member(7767)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
11/24/2022 11:06AM  
Congrats! I’m sure you’ll both love it and hate it. Keep your generators for those winter outages that come when you least expect.

Welcome to the outside world!
 
yogi59weedr
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11/24/2022 02:07PM  
Now here comes the monthly power bills.
 
11/24/2022 03:49PM  
Your subject line is a bit misleading... total cost is not just for Sawbill.

It is a 10 year, $20 million grant that was awarded in 2021 and this was the first project completed. (Over the next decade they will be connecting other parts of Cook County currently not on the grid).

Arrowhead Cooperative is looking to install 120 miles of power and broadband.
 
Maiingan
distinguished member (129)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/25/2022 07:57AM  
bobbernumber3: "Your subject line is a bit misleading... total cost is not just for Sawbill.


It is a 10 year, $20 million grant that was awarded in 2021 and this was the first project completed. (Over the next decade they will be connecting other parts of Cook County currently not on the grid).

Arrowhead Cooperative is looking to install 120 miles of power and broadband."

Fixed it for you, added area.
This is not only good for Sawbill Inc. It will benefit the private landowners in the area as well. Land that's only value has been timber sales will now be prime real estate. About twenty years ago a developer ran power to Wilson Lake. I was told he paid 250 thousand dollars to run power 12 miles. He then sold the Wilson Lake property at prime lake shore prices. Wilson Lake now has many Million dollar "Cabins".

Hi speed internet would be nice. They have been putting in subsidised fiber optic in the Arrowhead for about 10 years now. It is hit and miss. If you want good internet up here, you need Elon Musk's "Starlink".
 
Maiingan
distinguished member (129)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/25/2022 08:08AM  
yogi59weedr: "Now here comes the monthly power bills. "
True, all energy prices have skyrocketed in the last two years. However, diesel has never been so expensive. Those generators love fuel. It is also hard to get "Red" diesel in the area, it has hit loggers bad.

 
11/25/2022 08:26AM  
Maiingan: "Fixed it for you,..."
Wow... just for me?? Thanks!

Regarding your comments on power and lake shore prices... yeah, this will for sure encourage development in the area. When small lakes in Wisconsin put in a sewer district, it often leads to long-term development, fewer cottages and more year-round homes.
 
mschi772
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11/25/2022 02:03PM  
yogi59weedr: "Now here comes the monthly power bills.
"


They have solar and wind power and have generated more than they can store in their batteries, so they'll be selling power at times. In addition to power being cheaper than diesel, I imagine sold energy will make operating costs even cheaper.
 
11/25/2022 04:29PM  
Dare I now wish for a paved road to Sawbill?
 
11/27/2022 05:37PM  
bobbernumber3: "Maiingan: "Fixed it for you,..."
Wow... just for me?? Thanks!

Regarding your comments on power and lake shore prices... yeah, this will for sure encourage development in the area. When small lakes in Wisconsin put in a sewer district, it often leads to long-term development, fewer cottages and more year-round homes."

More homes on more lakes. To me, sounds like a losing issue for nature.
Much of Minnesota lakes are 100% developed (sick word - should be infested).
It's good for Sawbill and the area, but wild areas are a diminishing item.
 
Maiingan
distinguished member (129)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/27/2022 05:44PM  
OneMatch: "Dare I now wish for a paved road to Sawbill?"
The Sawbill was narrower winding road. About 20 years ago it was widened and straightened. Now it is a gravel superhighway.
 
WHendrix
distinguished member(581)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/27/2022 07:12PM  
But then you would miss that "Long Ride Down a Rough Road"
 
11/27/2022 07:43PM  
WHendrix: "But then you would miss that "Long Ride Down a Rough Road""
I love gravel roads, you can see where a moose or deer ran down the road.
 
HowardSprague
distinguished member(3269)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/29/2022 01:47PM  
Pinetree: "bobbernumber3: "Maiingan: "Fixed it for you,..."
Wow... just for me?? Thanks!

Regarding your comments on power and lake shore prices... yeah, this will for sure encourage development in the area. When small lakes in Wisconsin put in a sewer district, it often leads to long-term development, fewer cottages and more year-round homes."

More homes on more lakes. To me, sounds like a losing issue for nature.
Much of Minnesota lakes are 100% developed (sick word - should be infested).
It's good for Sawbill and the area, but wild areas are a diminishing item."


that's maybe a bit strong - you make it sound like all the lakes will be plastered with condos and highrises along every shoreline. Someone's dream lake cabin is, IMHO, not the same thing.
 
11/29/2022 04:16PM  
HowardSprague: "Pinetree: "bobbernumber3: "Maiingan: "Fixed it for you,..."
Wow... just for me?? Thanks!


Regarding your comments on power and lake shore prices... yeah, this will for sure encourage development in the area. When small lakes in Wisconsin put in a sewer district, it often leads to long-term development, fewer cottages and more year-round homes."

More homes on more lakes. To me, sounds like a losing issue for nature.
Much of Minnesota lakes are 100% developed (sick word - should be infested).
It's good for Sawbill and the area, but wild areas are a diminishing item."



that's maybe a bit strong - you make it sound like all the lakes will be plastered with condos and highrises along every shoreline. Someone's dream lake cabin is, IMHO, not the same thing."

Wish all shoreline development stopped at a small dream cabin size.
Just going with what I see in north-central Minnesota, it is rare to see an empty lot on a lake in the Brainerd area.
There is a saying-the characteristic of a lake is determined by the shoreline around it. Much fish habitat and spawning areas are gone. Also on the BWCA site, people get discomfort when someone fishes in front of their campsite. Well, lakeshore owners often think they own the area by their lot.

I am not against cabin owners or lakeshore owners. But against every last foot of shoreline developed and it would be nice if shoreline development was now frozen for now. If it is possible people will develop all the shoreline in the State if they could.
 
11/29/2022 04:25PM  
How out of hand it is in the Brainerd area. Get like the Whitefish chain north of Brainerd. It is nothing for someone to buy an existing lake house that cost $250,000 to a million dollars and bulldoze it down and build a more expensive one. Some of these mansions are used 2-4 times a year.
 
HowardSprague
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11/30/2022 09:30AM  
I definitely understand your displeasure; at times of dreaming, imagining i had Ted Turner- type money, I’ve thought I’d like to buy a couple of strip malls, bulldoze them and recreate a prairie or savanna. At the same time, around my area when we see a home listed for sale and it’s anywhere under $300,000, the anticipation is it’ll be torn down no matter how nice it may be. Tearing down a mcmansion and building a modest ranch with a nice yard would be a nice twist!

But someone saving for decades to build a cabin on a lake,.. allowing or restricting can’t be a one size fits all thing.
 
11/30/2022 09:40AM  
HowardSprague: "I definitely understand your displeasure; at times of dreaming, imagining i had Ted Turner- type money, I’ve thought I’d like to buy a couple of strip malls, bulldoze them and recreate a prairie or savanna. At the same time, around my area when we see a home listed for sale and it’s anywhere under $300,000, the anticipation is it’ll be torn down no matter how nice it may be. Tearing down a mcmansion and building a modest ranch with a nice yard would be a nice twist!

But someone saving for decades to build a cabin on a lake,.. allowing or restricting can’t be a one size fits all thing."

No, but the untouched shoreline is getting rare, and once it's gone, it is gone. Yes, I too, at times, would like a cabin on a lake. If you have a cabin on a lake, good for you.
 
Barca
member (16)member
 
11/30/2022 11:49AM  
So, living nowhere near the area I have a question.

Is it better to have a lake with 30-40 "cabins" which are used heavily at least in the "summer" months or have 10-15 "mansions" in the same area that are used 4-6 weeks out of the year?

I suspect most of us would more likely feel at home with the cabin people, but a lack of usage isn't a bad thing either. Just curious of the perspective of those who live in the area.
 
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