No hunting signs will go up at Suring School Forest

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Hunting hasn’t been permitted but officials assumed posting wasn’t allowed

Shannon Morrell, Times Herald Correspondent

Even though the Suring School Forest has always been closed to hunting, it has never had “No Hunting” signs posted within its boundaries. That will soon change. The Suring District School Board recently voted to put postings on the property.

Citing safety concerns, board president Wayne Sleeter said it had not previously been posted because it had been assumed that, due to the fact the 160-acre tract is public land, postings were not allowed.

“We really have not had any issues but were led to believe that because it is public land, we couldn’t post it,” Sleeter said. “I live in that area and brought it up (at a board meeting) to see if we could get a legal opinion as to whether we could post it and were told we can, so that’s why we’re posting it now.”

In addition to being used by the Suring schools for classroom field trips, the forest is open to the public. Hiking and cross-country ski trails are available to anyone who wants to make use of them.

“We want to make sure that the residents and students are safe,” said Sleeter. “We haven’t had any issues, but posting it now will prevent any possible future issues.”

School Superintendent Kelly Casper listed public awareness as the primary reason for for posting the property.

“Even though it has always been a ‘no hunting’ zone, people had been coming in from the back side and hunting on it. So that’s where this all stems from,” Casper said. “We’re trying to make (the hunting ban) more publicized.”

Casper said classrooms from elementary through high school level often travel to the school forest for field trips, and the Suring FFA uses it extensively for a variety of activities — including a haunted trail put on by FFA students at Halloween.

”Our students use it, and the community uses it,” she added. “Our main concern is making sure people are safe. I just hope the community continues to use it. That’s what it’s out there for.”

The Suring School Forest is open year-round and is located in the town of Bagley, about three miles from the high school.