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Minnesota Legislature

Land exchange resolution OK’d

Published (4/8/2010)
By Kris Berggren
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About 86,000 acres of Minnesota’s 2.5 million-acre permanent school trust lands are within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and generate no income for the Permanent School Fund. They could soon be sold or traded to the federal government, as recommended by the state’s Permanent School Fund Advisory Committee.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed a resolution April 1 affirming the state’s intent to negotiate such an exchange with the United States Secretary of Agriculture.

Rep. Denise Dittrich (DFL-Champlin), who sponsors the resolution with Sen. Tom Saxhaug (DFL-Grand Rapids), said it sends a “nod to Congress” the state would approve a transaction.

The exchange, said Dittrich, could be worth between $60 million and $80 million in revenue to the school trust corpus, or principal, while the lands within the BWCAW would be preserved as wilderness. Some of the land could be exchanged for lands outside the protected area, to be used to generate income in other ways for the fund.

School trust lands are a legacy of the nation’s founders, who, through the Land Ordinance of 1785, designated parcels of each township in all future territories and states to be used to generate income for public school education. Minnesota’s Enabling Act of 1857 designated the 16th and 36th parcels of each township — including those within what’s now the BWCAW — for that purpose.

HF3084/ SF2494*/R1

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