Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

BWCA land swap bill held over1

Published (3/9/2012)
By Bob Geiger
Share on: 

The proposed condemnation of state-owned lands in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and exchanging the land for federal land outside the area sparked divergent ideas on how to boost revenues from Minnesota’s school trust lands.

HF2207, sponsored by Rep. Carol McFarlane (R-White Bear Lake), was laid over March 6 by the House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee for possible inclusion in an omnibus bill.

McFarlane’s bill would condemn about 36,000 acres of state-owned land in the BWCA and exchange it for federally-owned land outside the wilderness area. The sale or leasing of that land could bolster funding to the state’s school trust fund. Some of the federal land lies in the Superior National Forest.

“This is a huge priority for the department and the State of Minnesota to sell the land,” said Bob Meier, director of policy and government relations for the Department of Natural Resources.

Rep. Jean Wagenius (DFL-Mpls) said the state should use the estimated $100 million the federal government could pay for the wilderness land to help fund K-12 education.

Rep. David Dill (DFL-Crane Lake), whose district includes the BWCA, said, “We should mine, log and lease the hell out of that land” to generate revenue rather than counting on lease revenue to fund education.

Rep. Bill Hilty (DFL-Finlayson) said, “If we’re really concerned about children, let’s adequately fund education.”

A group of 41 environment and conservation groups submitted a letter opposing the plan. Justin Fay, legislative coordinator for the Sierra Club, said his group opposes the condemnation of BWCA land and subsequent exchange because the federal government provides better protection.

Sen. John Carlson (R-Bemidji) sponsors the companion bill, SF1857, which awaits action by the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

Session Weekly More...

Session Weekly Home

Related Stories

Minnesota Index: Enjoying the outdoors
Facts and statistics on state parks and trails
(view full story) Published 4/20/2012

Minnesota Index: Birding
Facts and statistics on birding in Minnesota
(view full story) Published 4/6/2012

A prickly situation
Farmers seek fair fight against noxious weeds
(view full story) Published 3/16/2012

Angling for more participation
DNR looks for ways to get more anglers and hunters into the great outdoors
(view full story) Published 3/2/2012

Meeting halfway
Environment and energy law packs policy changes
(view full story) Published 8/11/2011

Legacy bill brought back to life
More than $449 million appropriated from voter-approved sales tax increase
(view full story) Published 8/11/2011

Trees from start to finish
Environment finance bill would close tree nursery
(view full story) Published 5/20/2011

Legacy spending differences
Conference committee needed to determine parks and trails funding
(view full story) Published 5/20/2011

Less means more
Some Legacy recipients may see increases despite drop in appropriation percentages
(view full story) Published 4/29/2011

Minnesota Index: Outdoor Heritage Fund
Facts and statistics on the Outdoor Heritage Fund
(view full story) Published 4/29/2011

Environment bill reflects ‘priorities’
House addresses wild rice, harvesting timber and closing of state parks
(view full story) Published 4/1/2011

Putting a stop to aquatic invasive species
Broader enforcement, stiffer penalties proposed for violators
(view full story) Published 4/1/2011

Wild rice study proposed
Committee approves policies for wild rice, state parks
(view full story) Published 3/25/2011

Should Minnesotans be hunting for land?
Legislators aim for no-net-loss and no-net-gain targets
(view full story) Published 3/4/2011

Minnesota Index: Horticulture and agriculture
Figures and statistics on horticulture and agriculture in Minnesota
(view full story) Published 3/4/2011

At Issue: Leaving a legacy
Recipients report outcomes of dedicated tax appropriations
(view full story) Published 2/4/2011