Senate Approves Funding for Key MN Conservation Projects

WASHINGTON, D.C. 6/21/2007: The Trust For Public Land (TPL), a national conservation organization, today praised U.S. Senators Norm Coleman and Amy Klobuchar for providing critical funding for conservation projects in Minnesota in the Senate’s Fiscal Year 2008 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. The funding is included in a bill that sets spending priorities for natural resource programs for the next fiscal year. It is expected to be approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday and will then proceed to the Senate floor.

The $1.75 million included in the bill through the U.S. Forest Service Forest Legacy Program will help protect over 38,300 acres of northern Minnesota forest in Koochiching County and complement 51,000 acres of forest land being protected through the first phase of this project with Forest Capital Partners, Inc. The conservation of these forestlands will have significant local and regional benefit. The various forest lands to be protected are adjacent to the Superior National Forest, the Bois Forte (Nett Lake) Indian Reservation, and the Koochiching State Forest-the largest in Minnesota. Connecting these conserved tracts protects wildlife habitat, ensures public access for recreation, and maintains the practice of sustainable forestry that supports the local economy.

The $1.25 million provided in the bill through the Land and Water Conservation Fund will protect 43 acres on Long Island, the largest undeveloped island in Burntside Lake, for inclusion in the Superior National Forest. The property boasts one mile of undeveloped lakeshore, including a beautiful sand beach, which would be used by the public for recreation. The island is home to nesting osprey, blue heron and nesting loons, has potential for habitat for rare and sensitive species, and is the viewshed of acclaimed naturalist writer Sigurd Olson’s Listening Point.

“We applaud Senators Coleman and Klobuchar for their commitment to these important land-conservation investments for Minnesota,” said Susan Schmidt, Minnesota Director for The Trust for Public Land. “The funding proposed in the Senate is a critically important step towards protection of some lands that are so important to Minnesotans.”

“Minnesota’s forests are among the state’s greatest treasures and both the Koochiching Forest Legacy Project and Superior National Forest are deserving recipients of this necessary funding,” said Coleman. “Similarly, families throughout Minnesota cherish times spent on the lakes of Minnesota and Burntside Lake is no exception. Conserving this beloved destination is important to the people of Minnesota and I applaud the Senate Appropriations Committee for protecting this important land.”

“These projects are crucial because they ensure proper access to our forests and protect that right,” said Klobuchar. “These federal funds will go toward protecting the integrity of Minnesota’s northern forests and the community’s way of life as well as providing for the recreational enjoyment of the area residents and visitors who come to see the beauty that northern Minnesota holds. We need to protect this natural land, water and habitat so that our kids and their kids can experience it just as we once did.”

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. 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.

In 1964, Congress established the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to preserve natural areas and wildlife and to ensure that all Americans have access to quality outdoor recreation. The LWCF federal program has preserved a total more than 4.7 million acres of land for conservation and recreation purposes nationwide.

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 31,000 acres valued at more than $64 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