Cravaack to Introduce Land Exchange Bill

Minnesota U.S. Representative Chip Cravaack said last week that he plans to introduce a bill in Congress to order exchange of state-owned land in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness for federal land in the Superior National Forest.

The Lake County News-Chronicle has the story HERE.

The land in question is the 87,000 acres of state-owned land embedded in small parcels within the BWCAW which is managed by the U.S. Forest Service as part of the Superior National Forest. Cravaack’s bill would order the U.S. Forest Service to exchange the parcels for Superior National Forest land outside the BWCAW.

The move dovetails with recent efforts by the state and the USFS to swap roughly 43,000 acres inside the BWCAW for land in the Superior National Forest but outside the wilderness area. The federal government also would buy approximately 40,000 of state land in the BWCAW for about $80 million. The resolution of ownership of the remaining 4,000 acres is still in question.

The fate of the state’s BWCAW land has been a long-simmering question. A mid-1990s plan for the federal government to buy all the state’s BWCAW land foundered when Iron Range lawmakers nixed it, demanding a land swap instead of cash.

Some environmental activists are concerned that the federal land coming into state hands could lose environmental protections just as copper mining interest in the area is growing.

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