Friday, February 24, 2012

Contact Your Representative - Vote "No" to HF2244

Dear Readers,

Here's what Calhoun has been up to this afternoon:

Hi friends,

My apologies for the mass email, but since I have so many great friends that value the outdoors in Minnesota it wasn't possible to write each of you personally in a timely manner.

I'm writing to let you know about a bill in the Minnesota House right now that would remove 2.5 million acres of public land from DNR management and put that land in the hands of a legislative commission to be managed for greater profits.  You can see the text of the bill here:  MPR has been reporting on this bill here: and here:

The 2.5 million acres in question is School Trust Land, and you can learn a little more about how it came into state ownership here:

The goal of removing the School Trust Lands from DNR management and putting them in the hands of a legislative commission is to exploit them in ways that the DNR has refused to do.  These rejected proposals for exploitation can be found in the 2010 School Trust Lands Analysis:

Please take a minute to evaluate this bill and consider contacting your congressperson to express your position.  I have already sent my congressman a letter.  I've pasted it below; please feel free to borrow from it if it reflects your views.


Dear Representative _________,

I am writing to urge you to vote against HF2244.  This bill removes School Trust Lands from Department of Natural Resources (DNR) management so that they can be managed for greater profitability by a legislative commission.

This proposed change in management is a bad idea for two main reasons.  First, the DNR is a professional land management organization with a great deal of experience, but there is no requirement that the legislative commission replacing them would have any land management training or expertise.  Turning over 2.5 million acres of public land to amateur management is irresponsible. 

Second, the 2010 School Trust Lands Report that this commission would likely put into practice proposes exploitation of the School Trust Lands in unprecedented ways that are opposed to their traditional use and harmful to Minnesota's economy.  This Report proposes user fees on public water accesses (§1B.4), leasing public land to private individuals for hunting (§2.1) or building cabins (§2.2), “commercial leasing and development” (§2.3), and increasing mining (§2.4).  Each of these activities is opposed to the way Minnesotans have traditionally enjoyed the School Trust Lands to hunt, fish, hike, boat, and snowmobile (among many other uses) – activities that promote tourism and contribute to the economy of outstate Minnesota.  Raising costs to participants in these activities would decrease participation and the economic activity that participation provides to state businesses.  Taking the unprecedented step of privatizing these traditionally public goods would be bad for Minnesota’s economy.  

Further, activates like mining and commercial development have significant long-term environmental consequences that ought to be evaluated by expert land managers so that the School Trust Lands will continue to provide benefits for future generations.  The DNR has a track record of effective conservation, and there is no reason to believe a legislative commission could do a better job. 

While the funding situation in our public schools is urgent, liquidating our publicly owned natural resources is an irresponsible method of solving the problem.     



So, the less technical version is this:

The DNR manages lands for profit that belong to a trust. They apparently do not aggressively manage the lands for profit, which means that the DNR looks towards the very long term use of the land rather than shorter term profits. Minnesota DNR does a great job of managing lands to ensure that people have access to land for outdoor use and that the land will remain a valuable cultural asset in the state of Minnesota for generations to come. The DNR has been a great steward of our natural resources.

This bill proposes to shift the management of the lands to a legislative commission. Calhoun has laid out some of the risks of this transfer - but there's a simple question here,  who has more expertise or experience as stewards of our natural resources than the Minnesota DNR?

If you think the DNR can do it better than a legislative commission, and should continue as the stewards of our natural resources, please contact your Representative

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