Plan Would Buy, Swap State BWCAW Lands

A plan being hammered out between federal, state, and local lawmakers and interest groups could see the federal government swap 43,000 acres of land with the State of Minnesota and buy another 40,000 acres for $80 million.

The Duluth News Tribune has the full story HERE.

The land in question is the 87,000 acres of state-owned land embedded within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness which is managed by the U.S. Forest Service as part of the Superior National Forest. The State would like to swap or sell its wilderness land for parcels that could raise money for the state via timber sales or mineral leases.

The developing deal would have Minnesota 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 fate 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 floundered 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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