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DNR would borrow from lottery to pay for new Lake Vermilion-area state park

ST. PAUL - Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources wants to buy park land in northeastern Minnesota - and other land around the state - with state lottery revenue.

ST. PAUL - Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources wants to buy park land in northeastern Minnesota - and other land around the state - with state lottery revenue.

Natural Resources Commissioner Mark Holsten on Tuesday released a proposal calling for the borrowing of $97.5 million, to be repaid over 22 years with money used to buy lottery tickets. Lottery proceeds are used to fund natural resources projects, but never have been used to repay a loan like the DNR proposes.

If a legislator-citizens' commission and the full Legislature approve the concept, it would take $60 million the DNR already has requested out of loans to be repaid by taxes, replacing payments with lottery proceeds.

The state has asked U.S. Steel to sell 2,500 acres of land on Lake Vermilion. The company had planned to use it for a housing development.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty proposed the new park in July, but U.S. Steel and the state have yet to talk about a sales price, Holsten said. There has been talk that the land would sell for $40 million.

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Holsten said any development costs would come on top of the sale price, and would be funded by loans repaid by tax money.

A sampling of legislators from both parties said on Tuesday they don't like Holsten's idea.

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