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Northern Research Station
11 Campus Blvd., Suite 200
Newtown Square, PA 19073
(610) 557-4017
(610) 557-4132 TTY/TDD

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Halfway Ranger Station Activities

Background

The Northern Research Station (NRS) had sought to dispose of the buildings it owns and manages at the Kawishiwi Field Laboratory.  NRS had not had a research interest based at the site for over twenty years and had no future plans for the buildings.  Additionally, the buildings were in poor condition and the NRS had no plans to rehabilitate them or to continue supporting their operating costs.

In July 2010 NRS released the Environmental Assessment: Northern Research Station Kawishiwi Field Laboratory Building Disposition.  This document analyzed six alternatives for disposition of the buildings at the site.  The proposed action identified at that time was demolition of the buildings after architectural documentation.  The Environmental Assessment (EA) garnered strong negative responses from residents of the Ely area as well as the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) due to the structures’ presumed historic significance and popularity as a familiar feature of the forest landscape.

In response to the negative responses to demolition, the Station Director instructed NRS Engineering to explore other opportunities.  The opportunity that presented itself was an adaptive re-use plan from a non-governmental organization: which has eventually come to be named the Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps (Northern Bedrock).

To facilitate the adaptive re-use of the site by Northern Bedrock, the NRS formally nominated the site for listing on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district.  The period of historic significance for the site is from 1931-1961.  At that time the site was referred to as the Halfway Ranger Station (HRS), this is the name by which it is now referred and listed.  Listing occurred in November 2011.

Current Activities

Northern Research Station is currently pursuing three objectives:

  1. Participating Agreement with Northern Bedrock
  2. Programmatic Agreement with Northern Bedrock and SHPO.
  3. Amended Environmental Assessment

The Participating Agreement is the instrument that that NRS is using to allow Northern Bedrock to utilize the HRS.  This document is essentially complete.  Signatures on the agreement will happen when the Programmatic Agreement document and the Environmental Assessment (EA) amendment process are complete.

The Programmatic Agreement is the document that spells out the provisions provided in the Participating Agreement for the adaptive re-use of the HRS by Northern Bedrock.  The Programmatic Agreement establishes the process for consultation, review, and compliance for all undertakings: creates a comprehensive and efficient process; integrates and streamlines project reviews under Federal historic preservation and environmental laws; simplifies the procedural requirements to the maximum extent possible; eliminates unnecessary paperwork; and, affirms the role of SHPO in Federal compliance.

The initial Environmental Assessment proposed action was to demolish the buildings after architectural documentation.  The decision change to adaptive re-use requires an amendment to the EA.  This process is currently ongoing and is being conducted in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA).

Next Steps

NRS, along with its partners, is continuing to work on the agreements and the amendment.  Completion and signing of the documents is anticipated for the spring of 2015, at which time Northern Bedrock may initiate their adaptive re-use of the HRS.

Last Modified: 12/11/2014