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Environment committee approves 2020 lands bill

The Department of Natural Resources may be able to grant easement rights to federally recognized American Indian tribes for trails, highways, flood control and more under a provision of the department’s annual “lands bill.”

HF133 was approved Tuesday by the House Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee and referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.

The bill was originally presented in the 2020 legislative session but stalled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn (DFL-Roseville), the bill sponsor.

There is currently no Senate companion, but a nearly identical version was introduced last year by Sen. Carrie Ruud (R-Breezy Point).

The bill would allow the department to charge a "monitoring fee" to entities that lease state land to build a trail or facility, in addition to allowing the DNR to convey easements to American Indian tribes. It would also add and/or remove land from several state parks and recreation areas and allow for the private sale of surplus state land and tax-forfeited lands in Cass, Lake of the Woods, St. Louis and Wadena counties.

Rep. Steve Green (R-Fosston), the lone vote against the bill, said he'd like to see more desirable properties offered up for sale.

 


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