Wow, we had a lot of rain the last few days! Please be careful as some of our local roads are flooded. With the amount of rainfall we have received it will take a few days for the waters to recede. For those that live along the Mississippi River we won’t see the river crest until later this weekend.
The Mississippi River at Aitkin currently is at 12.24 feet and rising. Thirteen feet is considered flood stage. This weekend NOAA, the national weather service predicts the river will reach 13.5 feet and then slowly recede back under the 13-foot mark by the middle of next week.
For the Aitkin area, you can track the river on the NOAA website at this link.
I spent four days this week in Duluth. Minnesota and Wisconsin jointly hosted the Advocates for School Trust Lands and the Western States Land Commissioner Association annual conferences. We had state land management officials from across the U.S., including Hawaii, meet to discuss issues we face managing public lands in particular school trust lands. It was an excellent opportunity to learn how others are dealing with the important task of managing these lands to generate revenue for our K-12 public schools.
Minnesota has about 2.5 million acres of school trust lands and we retain the mineral rights on about 3.5 million acres of land. The School Trust fund balance is just over $1.3 billion, with the annual investment return distributed to our schools districts on a per student basis. The annual distribution is about $37 per student. The amount increases annually as we move annual timber sales and mining lease revenues into the fund corpus each year.
About 90 percent of the $1.3 billion in the fund has been generated by mining leases, the bulk of the remainder is from timber sales. A 2008 DNR report identified three yet untapped mineral deposits on school lands in the Duluth Complex that if developed could generate royalties of $1.4 billion based on 2008 metal prices. The Duluth Complex minerals of interest are copper, nickel and precious metals such as gold, silver and palladium.
Another substantial copper, nickel deposit exists on school trust lands near Tamarack in Aitkin County. Mining and timber operations provide important financial support for our K-12 public schools.