Funding Approved for MN Conservation Work

St. Paul, Minnesota, 11/22/2004 – The Trust for Public Land (TPL) today praised the U.S. Congress for providing $2.0 million for the Brainerd Lakes Forest Legacy project in north central Minnesota from the USDA Forest Legacy Program (FLP).

The funding was secured by U.S. Senators Mark Dayton and Norm Coleman and U.S. Rep. James Oberstar and is included in the Omnibus Appropriations bill approved by Congress on Saturday.

The federal funds from the FLP will go toward the protection of 4,790 acres of critical forestland in the Brainerd Lakes area, adjacent to the Crow Wing and Pillsbury State Forests that when completed will connect more than 22,000 acres of protected forestlands vulnerable to the tremendous residential and commercial growth pressures affecting the Brainerd Lakes region.

“This funding announcement comes at a critical time and is great news. We thank Senators Dayton and Coleman and Rep. Oberstar for their continued commitment to these important land-conservation investments for Minnesota,” noted Susan Schmidt, Minnesota Director for the Trust for Public Land.

The Brainerd Lakes Forest Legacy project is a collaborative effort by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Potlatch Corporation, the Trust for Public Land and local community supporters to ensure conservation of these strategically located productive forestlands for multiple benefits.

“We view this as a win-win situation,” said Tom Murn, regional manager for Potlatch’s Resource Management Division. “This project is consistent with our desire to maintain these lands in a non-fragmented and ecologically sustainable condition in perpetuity. It’s important to us as a company to keep vital forestland in production.”

A working forestland easement over these lands will prevent development, ensure public access and allow for continued, sustainable forest management, thereby providing raw materials, natural resource protection, and jobs for the resource-based economy of north central Minnesota. Project partners are working to secure state funding which is required in order to access these federal funds.

The Forest Legacy Program, authorized by Congress in 1990 to keep intact natural and recreational resources of the nation’s dwindling forests, provides federal money to states to protect threatened working forests and woodlands either through public purchase or conservation easements. The latter are voluntary agreements in which landowners are paid to give up future development rights on their property. With its minimum requirement of 25 percent non federal matching funds, the program leverages state and private dollars to complement federal money, creating partnerships that have lasting value.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national, nonprofit land-conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Established in 1972, TPL is the only national nonprofit working exclusively to protect land for public enjoyment and use. In Minnesota, TPL has protected more than 27,500 acres valued at more than $43 million and worked with fast-growing communities to identify and set aside critical open space in the future. TPL depends on contributions from supporters to continue protecting land throughout the state. Visit TPL on the web at .?