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Scott M

Itasca County Lands in Permanent Easement

13 posts in this topic

From the DNR News

Conservation easement protects waters, habitat

and public access regardless of potential land sale

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Blandin Paper Company (UPM) have signed a binding agreement for the purchase of a working forest conservation easement to forever protect 187,277 acres of Northwoods forests, wetlands and shoreline currently owned by UPM. The agreement includes a closing date in 2010 when Lessard Outdoor Heritage funds will be fully available for the project.

The agreement will provide public access and numerous land and water safeguards, regardless of who may own the forest lands in the future, including:

* Permanent public access to 187,277 acres of land in north-central Minnesota for hunting, fishing, birdwatching and other recreational activities.

* Preservation of existing hiking, snowmobile and ATV trails.

Safeguards include:

* No development permitted on any of the lands.

* No dividing or subdividing of the lands for sale or other uses.

* No altering of water channels, wetlands, streams or rivers.

* No new or expanded roads or landings except as needed for sustainable forest management practices.

A requirement to follow internationally accepted sustainable forest management practices by being certified through the Forest Stewardship Council or Sustainable Forestry Initiative, with auditing by the DNR for compliance.

The agreement was signed today, 12 days after Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed into law the Clean Water, Land and Legacy constitutional amendment funding allocations, which included a two-year state appropriation of $36 million for purchase of working forest conservation easements. The state funding will come from revenues generated by the additional sales tax authorized by the constitutional amendment.

In addition, private funding of $9 million is being provided to the state by The Conservation Fund. The sources of these funds include $7 million from the Blandin Foundation and $2 million from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, bringing the total easement investment to $45 million.

“We now have a binding agreement for the perpetual protection of some of the state’s largest public access recreational lands,” said DNR Commissioner Mark Holsten. “The size and scope of the Upper Mississippi Forest makes it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and an ideal use of legacy funding. The easement is a smart investment that will protect Minnesota’s Great Outdoors for our children and grandchildren.”

Mike Kilgore, chair of the Lessard Outdoor Heritage Council, views the Upper Mississippi Forest as the signature project of the Outdoor Heritage Fund. “The Council embraced this project because it embodies everything that the Clean Water, Land and Legacy amendment stands for. The easement permanently protects important natural resources - forests, wetlands and shoreline - while guaranteeing public access for recreation at an unprecedented scale. Simply stated, this easement is a great buy for the citizens of Minnesota.”

The conservation easement will remain in place regardless of any possible sale of the forest lands. The timing of the easement agreement is critical for the protection of the lands, according to Tom Duffus, Upper Midwest Director of The Conservation Fund, who helped negotiate the easement. “The possibility of these lands being sold without easement protection was real. We now have in place an irrevocable promise that no matter who owns these lands, they will remain protected and open for public use.”

Sen. Tom Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids, said, “UPM has been a good steward of the land. And now, thanks to the wise investment by the state of Minnesota, regardless of ownership, we have an everlasting guarantee that they will be available for future generations, free from subdivision or development.”

“This easement is critical for the current and long-term needs of this community,” said Bud Stone, president of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. “Not only will we benefit from a guaranteed source of timber that will provide jobs for loggers and mill workers, we will also remain a recreational destination for those who wish to hunt, fish, hike and recreate on these lands.”

Patrick Radzak, secretary treasurer of Teamsters Local Union No. 346, echoed the sentiments expressed by Stone. “It is always positive when an employer and the union can work together to protect our lands and good jobs for the state of Minnesota.”

Clean Water, Land and Legacy funding for the easements will come from a 3/8 percent increase in the state sales tax, approved by Minnesota voters last November. The sales tax increase, which goes into effect on July 1, will also fund other land conservation measures, clean water initiatives, parks and trails projects, and arts education and cultural heritage. It is expected to take until mid to late 2010 before sufficient funds are collected to complete the conservation easement purchase. The easement purchase should be finalized before Dec. 31, 2010.

whistle

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Nice!!!!!!!

I probably will never step foot in these woods, but I am more then happy it has been saved from certain development! As a user of public land, having this chunk will prevent even more crowding to the lands we do have.

Thank you everyone who voted yes on the amendment!

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Yeah, nice alright.....nice way to burn up taxpayer money on nothing.

$36 million of regressive taxation dollars spent on this "conservation easement" even though Blandin Paper Company has been allowing public use of this land for a hundred years for not one red cent.

I'm sure BPC is laughing all the way to the bank. Thanks 56 percenter's!

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great job save some forest. I see people got a clue when Potlatch started seling/leasing their land and we now see that it is by the generosity of the cos. that allow people to use the land. I beleive that many people thought this land was public. Forests in N Mn are just as important as a phesant field near St Cloud.

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this is great, I hunt this land, and it is very good land to save for the public. there also is some trout streams in this land.

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You got that right.

When one looks at a gift horse in the mouth to long ones nose gets bit off, looks like someone took the initiative to prevent loosing a nose.

Makes me want to buy more things in our great state of Minnesota.

The way north central Minnesota is getting developed over the recent years a wise decision has been made.

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I do think this is a bit of a respose to Potlatch leasing out much of their lands to hunting. Having only recently begun to use the public lands available to us here in MN, being able to use paper company lands is a great plus.

I for one applaud this move. For a "First" use of funds, I am happy, and look forward to what the council can do in the future. FWIW I did not vote in favor of this, but it got voted in, so it is good to see something positive, as apposed to bickering and fighting.

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I'm sure the people of Minnesota living check to check will appreciate that others who are better off will be able to use this land for their hunting and outdoor pleasures, even though the paper company had allowed it for nothing.

waytogo.gif

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I'm sure the people of Minnesota living check to check will appreciate that others who are better off will be able to use this land for their hunting and outdoor pleasures, even though the paper company had allowed it anyway for nothing. waytogo.gif

the paper companys has never allowed this for nothing. there is a tax allowance that gives the paper companys a tax break if they allow there lands open for hunting, and other outdoor activitys. these lands have been open to the public becuase the state has payed there way.

this bill assuers that we can still be there, and the land never sells to a developer.

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I'm sure the people of Minnesota living check to check will appreciate that others who are better off will be able to use this land for their hunting and outdoor pleasures, even though the paper company had allowed it anyway for nothing. waytogo.gif

FYI I am one of the "people of Minnesota living check to check". In the last two years I have lost everything and watched my credit score go from high 7's into the 4's. Buisness folowed by home, vehicals all of them. I then lost all my private hunting areas due to my divorce. (Her family property) So for you to say it is a great thing that people who are well off will enjoy this land is fine for you to say if that is your oppinion, but you are forgetting about those of us who can not afford to buy or lease land on our own. I may never use a single acre of this land, but knowing that it is there for someone else to use be it now or 100 years from now is the piont behind this move.

IMO you are missing that point. Blandin could have gone the way of Potlatch and decided to make some quick $$$$ by leasing out all their land for hunting. Esentialy making it all private. This move keeps it "public", FOREVER....

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Very well said, Neighbor Guy!

"The agreement will provide public access and numerous land and water safeguards, regardless of who may own the forest lands in the future, including:

* Permanent public access to 187,277 acres of land in north-central Minnesota for hunting, fishing, birdwatching and other recreational activities.

* Preservation of existing hiking, snowmobile and ATV trails.

Safeguards include:

* No development permitted on any of the lands.

* No dividing or subdividing of the lands for sale or other uses.

* No altering of water channels, wetlands, streams or rivers.

* No new or expanded roads or landings except as needed for sustainable forest management practices."

This says enough for me! Do ya think Blandin would have offered this if we just left it alone for them to do with as they wish?

Wasn't Blandin already in talks with a developer to sell the land off to be subdivided in the first place? That's what I remember reading when this first came out....

Man, Limit.... can I just read ONE post from you down here that has even a hint of positivity? You really must be exhausted living in this day and age?

What was the last thing the government was involved in that you remember, you actually approved of anyway? wink

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Actually, I think this is probably one of the better investments the Heritage Funds could make. Over the past 20 to 25 years, the timber companies all over the U.S. have been selling off and leasing their timberlands to various groups, including many who won't allow any public access of the land at all, and sometimes to environmental concerns who simply lock the land up for any use.

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Yep, this project gets a big thumbs up.

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