County Aims to Curb Public Land Growth

Northeastern Minnesota’s St. Louis County has commissioned a study to determine how best to keep private land in the county from becoming publicly owned.

The Duluth News Tribune has the story HERE.

The St. Louis County Board approved a resolution ordering County Administrator Kevin Gray to create a task force studying the pros and cons of the county’s “no net loss of private land” policy.  According to the John Myers story, the idea for the study originated with Commissioner Dennis Fink, who has long fought against conversion of private land to public ownership.

Private land protection advocates are concerned that private land which is converted to State Park, National Forest, or Wildlife Management Areas, for example, costs the county valuable tax dollars. The sale of the 3,000-acre U.S. Steel property to the State of Minnesota to become Lake Vermilion State Park shined a spotlight on the issue; private development of the property could have netted the county millions in tax revenues.

St. Louis County, which includes Duluth and the eastern portion of the Iron Range, stretches to the Canadian border and includes parts of the Superior National Forest and Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Already, 63% of the county is publicly owned.

Environmental and sportsmen’s advocacy groups typically oppose efforts to restrict the growth of public land, saying it impairs efforts to create public hunting areas, scientific and natural areas, and public forest land.

The St. Louis County task force’s report is due on July 1, 2011.

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