Legislators say they've reached deal to keep large tracts of Northland forest open to hunters - for nowTwo Northland legislators say they’ve brokered a tentative agreement with Minnesota’s largest private landowner to maintain public access to the company’s land for hunters and snowmobilers through next spring.
By: News Tribune staff, Duluth News Tribune
Two Northland legislators say they’ve brokered a tentative agreement with Minnesota’s largest private landowner to maintain public access to the company’s land for hunters and snowmobilers through next spring.
In the wake of a change in Minnesota tax law for forested land, Mississippi-based Molpus Woodlands Group had put up “Keep Out” signs on access roads across much of the land it owns in northern St. Louis County. The move came after the state Legislature cut a tax break the company received for conducting sustainable forestry and allowing public access from more than $2 million to $100,000.
Rep. David Dill, DFL-Crane Lake, and Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said in a news release Thursday that they “have reached a tentative agreement with Molpus … that will provide for public access to Molpus land for the duration of 2012 and continuing through the close of the 2013 legislative session.”
The announcement came after Dill and Bakk met with Molpus representatives to discuss the tax issue. The legislators told the company that they cannot guarantee any outcome, but they will work to pass legislation next spring that addresses Molpus’ concerns and maintains public access to the affected land.
Molpus became owners of 286,000 acres of Minnesota forest in July when it purchased the land from Forest Capital Partners, which more than a decade ago had acquired the land holdings of Boise Cascade Co. Molpus is operated as a land investment company to return profits to investors from timber sales and other revenue off the land.
Of Molpus’ Minnesota acres, about 128,000 acres had been enrolled in the Sustainable Forestry Incentives Act program and were affected by the company’s plan to ban motorized access, much of it in northern St. Louis County.
The new signs warned hunters that gates would be closed and access blocked to popular grouse and deer hunting land this fall, just as hunters are heading into the woods. The closures also would have affected hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails that cross Molpus land.
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