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Environment, natural resources committee plays catch-up in approving land-use bill

Playing a little catch-up from last session, the House Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee sent a land management bill out of committee on its first day.

Without dissent, it approved HF50, as amended, and sent the bill to the House Ways and Means Committee.

The bill would allow some acquisition and divestment of lands in accordance with the state’s land management goals. Provisions in the bill were passed by the House last year, and were part of a last-night conference committee report that was not acted upon.

“It’s an example and cleanup and catch-up and helps people in your district,” Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-South St. Paul), the committee chair and bill sponsor. He hopes to pass a land-use bill every year.

Lorie Klein, an attorney for the Department of Natural Resources, said the land-use bill is typically seen as non-controversial. Bill provisions were proposed by the DNR, counties and state agencies, she said.

Included are provisions that would: 

  • allow the DNR to waive application fees for preparing an easement when the transfer of land benefits the DNR or another division; 
  • allow St. Louis County to deposit the proceeds from the sale of tax-forfeited lands into a land acquisition trust fund;
  • clarify that some state leases are permitted even when they don’t apply to recreation trails;
  • acquire about 11 acres for Myre-Big Island State Park in Freeborn County to help connect to another 50 acres the DNR is pursuing; and
  • divest small parcels that are too isolated, cut off from other DNR managed land or no longer have a use. For example, DNR would like to sell land near Trout Lake in Itasca County because eagles no longer nest there. The amount of land ranges from less than one acre to nearly 60 acres.

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