MN Conservation Project Gets Boost From Congress
Washington, DC, 9/13/05 — The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the Potlatch Corporation today praised Minnesota’s Congressional delegation for securing $800,000 for the Brainerd Lakes Forest Legacy project in north central Minnesota from the USDA Forest Legacy Program (FLP) bringing the total to $2.8 million in federal FLP funds.
The funding was strongly supported by U.S. Senators Mark Dayton and Norm Coleman and U.S. Rep. James Oberstar and is included in the Fiscal Year 2006 Interior Appropriations bill approved by Congress on July 29th and signed into law by President Bush on August 10th. This culminates a three-year effort to secure federal and state funding to protect 4,700 acres of prime habitat lands owned by Potlatch Corporation. Project partners have secured state funding to meet the match required in order to access these federal funds. The Minnesota Legislature and Governor Tim Pawlenty made available nearly $1 million of critical match dollars as a part of the 2005 bonding bill for the entire Brainerd Lakes Forest Legacy project.
This year’s FLP funds will go toward the protection of 1,600 acres of critical forestland in the Brainerd Lakes area, adjacent to the Pillsbury State Forest. Last year, in the first phase of the Brainerd Lakes Forest Legacy project, $2 million in FLP funds were secured for the protection of over 3,100 acres adjacent to the Crow Wing State Forest. Once completed, the entire Brainerd Lakes Forest Legacy project will connect more than 22,000 acres of protected forestlands otherwise vulnerable to the tremendous residential and commercial growth pressures affecting the Brainerd Lakes region.
“This federal funding announcement comes at a critical time and is great news. We thank Senators Dayton and Coleman and Representative Oberstar for their continued commitment to these important land-conservation investments for Minnesota,” said 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, Cass and Crow Wing Counties, local community supporters and TPL 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 productive, contiguous and ecologically sustainable condition in perpetuity. It’s important to us as a natural resource business to keep vital forestlands in a position to continue providing the recreation, wildlife and raw material benefits to Minnesotans.”
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.
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 $49 million and worked with fast-growing communities such as St. Cloud, Eagan, Farmington, Brainerd and Ely to identify and set aside critical open space for the future. TPL depends on contributions from supporters to continue protecting land throughout the state. Visit TPL on the web at www.tpl.org
Potlatch Corporation, headquartered in Spokane, Washington, is a diversified forest products company with 1.5 million acres of timberlands in Arkansas, Idaho and Minnesota. In addition to being Minnesota’s largest private landowner, the company operates three oriented strand board mills and a sawmill and employs approximately 700 people in the state. Additional information about the company can be found on the Potlatch Corporation website at www.potlatchcorp.com.