Summary

To authorize and expedite a land exchange involving National Forest System land in the Laurentian District of the Superior National Forest and certain other National Forest System land... Read More

Status

This bill was introduced in a previous session of Congress and was passed by the House on Sep 12, 2012 but was never passed by the Senate.

Date Introduced
May 8, 2012

Bill Text

A BILL

To authorize and expedite a land exchange involving National Forest System land in the Laurentian District of the Superior National Forest and certain other National Forest System land in the State of Minnesota that has limited recreational and conservation resources and lands owned by the State of Minnesota in trust for the public school system that are largely scattered in checkerboard fashion within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and have important recreational, scenic, and conservation resources, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the ``Minnesota Education Investment and Employment Act''.

SEC. 2. LAND EXCHANGE, BOUNDARY WATERS CANOE AREA WILDERNESS AND SUPERIOR NATIONAL FOREST, MINNESOTA.

(a) Findings.--Congress makes the following findings: (1) The State of Minnesota owns multiple parcels of land in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in the Superior National Forest that were granted to the State through sections 16 and 36 of the Enabling Act of 1857 to be held in trust for the benefit of the public school system in the State (in this section referred to as ``State trust lands''). (2) The State trust lands were acquired by the State long before the establishment of either the National Forest System or the wilderness area and are scattered in a largely checkerboard fashion amid the Superior National Forest and the wilderness area. (3) The presence of State trust lands...

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September 11, 2012 Dear Representative: On behalf of Minnesota Conservation Federation’s 5,000 conservationists in Minnesota and National Wildlife Federation’s 4 million members and supporters across the country, we urge you to oppose H.R.5544, the Minnesota Education Investment and Employment Act. H.R. 5544 would direct the U.S. Forest Service to complete an expedited land exchange of more than 86,000 acres of School Trust Lands within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) for yet-to-be-determined federal lands in the Superior or Chippewa National Forests. The result would be the loss of tens of thousands of acres of National Forest land that would instead be managed for maximum revenue generation, placing an irreplaceable part of Minnesota, and the United States, in jeopardy without public input. The BWCAW, the Superior and Chippewa National Forests are critical to Minnesota’s outdoor recreation economy. Hunting, fishing, camping, paddling and other outdoor recreation activities drives the economy in this part of the state, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. This economy would be threatened by the land exchange because the land would be prioritized by intensive development activities such as mining, which would negatively impact wildlife habitat and the outdoor experience. In addition, this bill does not specify which federal lands would be exchanged, which could restrict public access to areas in the National Forests. No one knows what federal lands will be close to hunting, fishing, and other activities because of this bill. H.R. 5544 includes several other major flaws that circumvent Minnesota’s process to generate revenue for Minnesota’s schools and undermines existing protections for the land and water involved in this exchange: • H.R. 5544 does not follow adequate appraisal standards. The process to value the land to be exchanged is unclear and the bill lacks the federal uniform standards of appraisal to make sure the taxpayer is protected. • H.R. 5544 blocks public input by waiving NEPA. The land exchange between the Forest Service and the state will not be transparent and the public will not have the opportunity to comment. Waiving these public protections hurts all stakeholders and essentially eliminates accountability. • H.R.5544 fails to take into account recreational or ecological value. Since H.R.5544 does not identify the federal lands to be exchanged, all land in the Superior and Chippewa National Forests is on the table. Loss of economic value from closing off recreational opportunities or impacts to private property rights is not considered in this legislation. Hunters and anglers know how important conservation and recreation is to Minnesota and want a process that takes these values into account. The land transferred into the School Trust is likely to include harmful sulfide-ore mining with huge potential implications to water resources. Minnesotans are concerned about the impacts that extractive activities such as mining could have in the Boundary Waters and Lake Superior watershed, making public participation in these decisions all the more important. These watersheds contain critical wildlife corridors and habitat for fish, game and endangered species. There is already an alternative process to achieve the goal of completing land exchanges to benefit Minnesota’s schools that does involve the public. The Permanent School Trust Fund Advisory Committee, established by the Minnesota Legislature, appointed a working group of stakeholders to identify appropriate candidate lands for a mix of sale and exchange in a transparent manner. H.R. 5544 ignores this progress and unnecessarily abandons Congressional precedent on federal land exchanges. The land exchange proposed by H.R. 5544 could have serious consequences for Minnesota’s water, fish, wildlife, and outdoor recreation economy. Minnesota Conservation Federation and National Wildlife Federation believe strongly that it is unethical and immoral to base the education of our school children upon the destruction of the land that is their true heritage. We urge you to oppose H.R. 5544 so that these future generations will be able to experience the wildlife, clean water, forests and recreational opportunities that we enjoy in Minnesota today.

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September 11, 2012 Dear Representative: On behalf of Minnesota Conservation Federation’s 5,000 conservationists in Minnesota and National Wildlife Federation’s 4 million members and supporters across the country, we urge you to oppose H.R.5544, the Minnesota Education Investment and Employment Act. H.R. 5544 would direct the U.S. Forest Service to complete an expedited land exchange of more than 86,000 acres of School Trust Lands within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) for yet-to-be-determined federal lands in the Superior or Chippewa National Forests. The result would be the loss of tens of thousands of acres of National Forest land that would instead be managed for maximum revenue generation, placing an irreplaceable part of Minnesota, and the United States, in jeopardy without public input. The BWCAW, the Superior and Chippewa National Forests are critical to Minnesota’s outdoor recreation economy. Hunting, fishing, camping, paddling and other outdoor recreation activities drives the economy in this part of the state, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. This economy would be threatened by the land exchange because the land would be prioritized by intensive development activities such as mining, which would negatively impact wildlife habitat and the outdoor experience. In addition, this bill does not specify which federal lands would be exchanged, which could restrict public access to areas in the National Forests. No one knows what federal lands will be close to hunting, fishing, and other activities because of this bill. H.R. 5544 includes several other major flaws that circumvent Minnesota’s process to generate revenue for Minnesota’s schools and undermines existing protections for the land and water involved in this exchange: • H.R. 5544 does not follow adequate appraisal standards. The process to value the land to be exchanged is unclear and the bill lacks the federal uniform standards of appraisal to make sure the taxpayer is protected. • H.R. 5544 blocks public input by waiving NEPA. The land exchange between the Forest Service and the state will not be transparent and the public will not have the opportunity to comment. Waiving these public protections hurts all stakeholders and essentially eliminates accountability. • H.R.5544 fails to take into account recreational or ecological value. Since H.R.5544 does not identify the federal lands to be exchanged, all land in the Superior and Chippewa National Forests is on the table. Loss of economic value from closing off recreational opportunities or impacts to private property rights is not considered in this legislation. Hunters and anglers know how important conservation and recreation is to Minnesota and want a process that takes these values into account. The land transferred into the School Trust is likely to include harmful sulfide-ore mining with huge potential implications to water resources. Minnesotans are concerned about the impacts that extractive activities such as mining could have in the Boundary Waters and Lake Superior watershed, making public participation in these decisions all the more important. These watersheds contain critical wildlife corridors and habitat for fish, game and endangered species. There is already an alternative process to achieve the goal of completing land exchanges to benefit Minnesota’s schools that does involve the public. The Permanent School Trust Fund Advisory Committee, established by the Minnesota Legislature, appointed a working group of stakeholders to identify appropriate candidate lands for a mix of sale and exchange in a transparent manner. H.R. 5544 ignores this progress and unnecessarily abandons Congressional precedent on federal land exchanges. The land exchange proposed by H.R. 5544 could have serious consequences for Minnesota’s water, fish, wildlife, and outdoor recreation economy. Minnesota Conservation Federation and National Wildlife Federation believe strongly that it is unethical and immoral to base the education of our school children upon the destruction of the land that is their true heritage. We urge you to oppose H.R. 5544 so that these future generations will be able to experience the wildlife, clean water, forests and recreational opportunities that we enjoy in Minnesota today.

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September 12, 2012 Dear Representative: During the week of September 10, the House of Representatives will consider H.R. 5544, the Minnesota Education Investment and Employment Act. On behalf of our organizations and our membership across the country, we are writing to express our opposition to the bill. H.R. 5544 would direct the Secretary of Agriculture to complete an expedited land exchange of approximately 86,000 acres of Minnesota School Trust Lands within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area for unidentified federal lands within the Superior or Chippewa National Forests within Minnesota. While we are sympathetic to the desire by the State of Minnesota to utilize school trust lands, H.R. 5544 is not the correct means to accomplish this goal. H.R. 5544 has serious defects, creating a Congressional precedent that should give Congress pause. · H.R. 5544 fails to follow federal appraisal standards. In authorizing land exchanges, Congress has sought to protect the taxpayers’ interests by requiring that the exchange be subject to the Uniform Appraisal Standards for Federal Land Acquisitions and the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice. H.R. 5544 does not provide that taxpayer protection. · H.R. 5544 does not protect lands with high recreational or ecological value. Land exchange legislation typically references specific maps and descriptions of lands to be exchanged. The federal lands to be exchanged are not identified in the legislation or accompanying materials. Nor does the bill provide direction for the qualifications for federal lands to be exchanged. As a result, all federal lands within the entire Superior and Chippewa National Forests are possible exchange candidates and there are no protections for lands with high recreational or ecological values. Popular snowmobile routes, hunting sites, hiking and canoe routes and other widely used recreational sites could be closed because of this bill and private property rights could be undermined. · H.R. 5544 waives NEPA and public comment. The land exchange between the state and the Forest Service will not be transparent and the public will have no opportunity to comment on the merits of the various parcels. The exclusion of public participation will hurt all stakeholders, including local private property owners and all recreational users. The BWCA is the most popular wilderness area in our entire Wilderness system. Each year over 250,000 visitors come to the BWCA to enjoy the lakes, fish and wildlife and spectacular scenery. It is a crucial asset for northeastern Minnesota’s tourism and recreation industry. A land exchange of nearly 100,000 acres could have serious and long term repercussions on this national and local treasure. Congress should not ratify the flawed process in H.R. 5544.

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Environment America 2 years ago

September 12, 2012 Dear Representative: During the week of September 10, the House of Representatives will consider H.R. 5544, the Minnesota Education Investment and Employment Act. On behalf of our organizations and our membership across the country, we are writing to express our opposition to the bill. H.R. 5544 would direct the Secretary of Agriculture to complete an expedited land exchange of approximately 86,000 acres of Minnesota School Trust Lands within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area for unidentified federal lands within the Superior or Chippewa National Forests within Minnesota. While we are sympathetic to the desire by the State of Minnesota to utilize school trust lands, H.R. 5544 is not the correct means to accomplish this goal. H.R. 5544 has serious defects, creating a Congressional precedent that should give Congress pause. · H.R. 5544 fails to follow federal appraisal standards. In authorizing land exchanges, Congress has sought to protect the taxpayers’ interests by requiring that the exchange be subject to the Uniform Appraisal Standards for Federal Land Acquisitions and the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice. H.R. 5544 does not provide that taxpayer protection. · H.R. 5544 does not protect lands with high recreational or ecological value. Land exchange legislation typically references specific maps and descriptions of lands to be exchanged. The federal lands to be exchanged are not identified in the legislation or accompanying materials. Nor does the bill provide direction for the qualifications for federal lands to be exchanged. As a result, all federal lands within the entire Superior and Chippewa National Forests are possible exchange candidates and there are no protections for lands with high recreational or ecological values. Popular snowmobile routes, hunting sites, hiking and canoe routes and other widely used recreational sites could be closed because of this bill and private property rights could be undermined. · H.R. 5544 waives NEPA and public comment. The land exchange between the state and the Forest Service will not be transparent and the public will have no opportunity to comment on the merits of the various parcels. The exclusion of public participation will hurt all stakeholders, including local private property owners and all recreational users. The BWCA is the most popular wilderness area in our entire Wilderness system. Each year over 250,000 visitors come to the BWCA to enjoy the lakes, fish and wildlife and spectacular scenery. It is a crucial asset for northeastern Minnesota’s tourism and recreation industry. A land exchange of nearly 100,000 acres could have serious and long term repercussions on this national and local treasure. Congress should not ratify the flawed process in H.R. 5544.

Share

September 12, 2012 Dear Representative: During the week of September 10, the House of Representatives will consider H.R. 5544, the Minnesota Education Investment and Employment Act. On behalf of our organizations and our membership across the country, we are writing to express our opposition to the bill. H.R. 5544 would direct the Secretary of Agriculture to complete an expedited land exchange of approximately 86,000 acres of Minnesota School Trust Lands within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area for unidentified federal lands within the Superior or Chippewa National Forests within Minnesota. While we are sympathetic to the desire by the State of Minnesota to utilize school trust lands, H.R. 5544 is not the correct means to accomplish this goal. H.R. 5544 has serious defects, creating a Congressional precedent that should give Congress pause. · H.R. 5544 fails to follow federal appraisal standards. In authorizing land exchanges, Congress has sought to protect the taxpayers’ interests by requiring that the exchange be subject to the Uniform Appraisal Standards for Federal Land Acquisitions and the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice. H.R. 5544 does not provide that taxpayer protection. · H.R. 5544 does not protect lands with high recreational or ecological value. Land exchange legislation typically references specific maps and descriptions of lands to be exchanged. The federal lands to be exchanged are not identified in the legislation or accompanying materials. Nor does the bill provide direction for the qualifications for federal lands to be exchanged. As a result, all federal lands within the entire Superior and Chippewa National Forests are possible exchange candidates and there are no protections for lands with high recreational or ecological values. Popular snowmobile routes, hunting sites, hiking and canoe routes and other widely used recreational sites could be closed because of this bill and private property rights could be undermined. · H.R. 5544 waives NEPA and public comment. The land exchange between the state and the Forest Service will not be transparent and the public will have no opportunity to comment on the merits of the various parcels. The exclusion of public participation will hurt all stakeholders, including local private property owners and all recreational users. The BWCA is the most popular wilderness area in our entire Wilderness system. Each year over 250,000 visitors come to the BWCA to enjoy the lakes, fish and wildlife and spectacular scenery. It is a crucial asset for northeastern Minnesota’s tourism and recreation industry. A land exchange of nearly 100,000 acres could have serious and long term repercussions on this national and local treasure. Congress should not ratify the flawed process in H.R. 5544.

Share

September 12, 2012 Dear Representative: During the week of September 10, the House of Representatives will consider H.R. 5544, the Minnesota Education Investment and Employment Act. On behalf of our organizations and our membership across the country, we are writing to express our opposition to the bill. H.R. 5544 would direct the Secretary of Agriculture to complete an expedited land exchange of approximately 86,000 acres of Minnesota School Trust Lands within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area for unidentified federal lands within the Superior or Chippewa National Forests within Minnesota. While we are sympathetic to the desire by the State of Minnesota to utilize school trust lands, H.R. 5544 is not the correct means to accomplish this goal. H.R. 5544 has serious defects, creating a Congressional precedent that should give Congress pause. · H.R. 5544 fails to follow federal appraisal standards. In authorizing land exchanges, Congress has sought to protect the taxpayers’ interests by requiring that the exchange be subject to the Uniform Appraisal Standards for Federal Land Acquisitions and the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice. H.R. 5544 does not provide that taxpayer protection. · H.R. 5544 does not protect lands with high recreational or ecological value. Land exchange legislation typically references specific maps and descriptions of lands to be exchanged. The federal lands to be exchanged are not identified in the legislation or accompanying materials. Nor does the bill provide direction for the qualifications for federal lands to be exchanged. As a result, all federal lands within the entire Superior and Chippewa National Forests are possible exchange candidates and there are no protections for lands with high recreational or ecological values. Popular snowmobile routes, hunting sites, hiking and canoe routes and other widely used recreational sites could be closed because of this bill and private property rights could be undermined. · H.R. 5544 waives NEPA and public comment. The land exchange between the state and the Forest Service will not be transparent and the public will have no opportunity to comment on the merits of the various parcels. The exclusion of public participation will hurt all stakeholders, including local private property owners and all recreational users. The BWCA is the most popular wilderness area in our entire Wilderness system. Each year over 250,000 visitors come to the BWCA to enjoy the lakes, fish and wildlife and spectacular scenery. It is a crucial asset for northeastern Minnesota’s tourism and recreation industry. A land exchange of nearly 100,000 acres could have serious and long term repercussions on this national and local treasure. Congress should not ratify the flawed process in H.R. 5544.

Share
Sierra Club 2 years ago
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Bill Summary

To authorize and expedite a land exchange involving National Forest System land in the Laurentian District of the Superior National Forest and certain other National Forest System land in the State of Minnesota that has limited recreational and conservation resources and lands owned by the State of Minnesota in trust for the public school system that are largely scattered in checkerboard fashion within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and have important recreational, scenic, and conservation resources, and for other purposes.

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