Protecting Federal Forest

Protect Our Superior National Forest from Destruction and Exploitation

What is Proposed for the Superior National Forest?
The U.S. Forest Service is proposing to turn over federal Superior National Forest lands to the State of Minnesota, and is asking for your comments on what they should analyze before deciding whether to take this potentially destructive step.

Read WaterLegacy’s Comments to the United States Forest Service Opposing the Land Exchange and Requesting Preparation of a Rigorous Environmental Impact Statement

WaterLegacy opposes the current proposed Land Exchange and any future land exchange of Superior National Forest lands with School Trust lands in the BWCAW because by purpose, intent, underlying Minnesota laws and state policies, the former federal lands will be managed, exploited and sold to maximize revenue… Tens of thousands of acres of federal land would be subject to potentially significant environmental impacts from surface mining, unsustainable logging, and sale to private parties. The Land Exchange and resulting changes in management and land use would directly conflict with the goals for the Superior National Forest, including the Forest Service stated goals for the project, and would adversely affect environmental values, recreation, tourism, tribal rights, and human health.

In addition, the management and land use changes from any transfer of Superior National Forest lands to the Minnesota School Trust that lead WaterLegacy to oppose the exchange require preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS). When reasonably foreseeable indirect and cumulative effects of changes in ownership, management and land use are considered, it is clear that the increased exploitation of up to 39,000 acres of federal forest lands has the potential to result significant impacts on the environment.

Comment by the extended deadline of May 15, 2015 to oppose this loss.

How Much Superior National Forest Land is Threatened?
The U.S. Forest Service is proposing to turn over up to 39,000 acres of Superior National Forest land to the State of Minnesota in exchange for land in the Boundary Waters. If this swap goes through, more than 83,000 acres – a total of nearly 130 square miles – of the Superior National Forest would be at risk of exploitation and harm.

Why would it Matter if Superior National Forest were Turned over to the State?
Nothing would change in the character of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters as a result of the proposed exchange. Federal law prevents state land in the Boundary Waters from being exploited.

However, there would be significant changes affecting use of tens of thousands of acres of our federal lands if Superior National Forest lands were turned over to the State. What do the promoters of the plan to turn Minnesota’s Superior National Forest over to the State have to say?

Listen for yourself to Minnesota State Representative Dill pushing for this land exchange in 2012, “we should mine, log and lease the hell out of that land that we get in the change.”

Aerial photo of U.S. Steel Minntac Mine

Destruction of boreal forest

How would a change in federal forest ownership lead to intensive industrial exploitation of the Superior National Forest?

  • Legal restrictions (the Weeks Act) that prevent open-pit mining on Superior National Forest land would be removed.
  • Federal trust obligations and laws and policies protecting forest lands for multiple uses, such as recreation, habitat, sustainable forestry, hunting and fishing would be lost;
  • Lands that are now public forest lands could be sold off to mining and other corporate industries, limiting public and tribal access and harming treaty rights and tourism and recreation economies.
  • Changes in use of our forests could decrease biodiversity and pollute air, streams, lakes and drinking water.



Comment Today to Prevent the Loss of Our Superior National Forest Protection

Send your comment to the U.S. Forest Service opposing this plan to turn over Superior National Forest lands to the State of Minnesota.

Support purchase of any remaining federal land in the Boundary Waters as a better alternative. Request that the U.S. Forest Service examine all harm to environmental values; fishing, hunting, tourism and recreation access and economies; and to environmental justice and public health impacts to communities throughout Northeastern Minnesota.

Please feel free to add your own additional thoughts to the sample comment letter.

You can also make oral comments at the Forest Headquarters, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday or by calling 218-626-4368 or send written comments to: Chip Weber, Acting Forest Supervisor, Attn: School Trust Land Exchange, Forest Headquarters, 8901 Grand Avenue Place, Duluth, MN 55808

More Information

LEARN MORE – the U.S. Forest Service has scheduled Open House information sessions — all are from 4-7 pm:

March 9, 2015: Gunflint Ranger Station, 2020 W. Highway 61, Grand Marais, MN
March 10, 2015: Laurentian Ranger Station, 318 Forestry Road, Aurora, MN
March 12, 2015: Forest Headquarters, 8901 Grand Avenue Place, Duluth, MN
March 23, 2015: Kawishiwi Ranger Station, 1393 Highway 169, Ely, MN
March 26, 2015: MN Department of Natural Resources, 500 Lafayette Rd, St. Paul, MN

READ more about the proposal on the U.S. Forest Service Website page for “School Trust Lands Exchange”.

READ the background showing that transfer of land to State will result in management for maximum profit at the expense of all other values.

The Minnesota Constitution requires that proceeds from School Trust Lands be deposited into the Permanent School fund. The Constitution requires that funds be invested to secure a “maximum return,” but it does not require that lands be managed with no regard for other benefits. (Minnesota Constitution; Article XI; Section 8)

However, the Minnesota DNR has chosen to interpret this to mean that the land itself shall be managed to generate maximum revenue. The Commissioner has stated that managing School Trust lands for maximum revenue gain takes precedence over natural resource and recreation management goals:

“Under the law, the primary management priority for School Trust lands is to maximize their long term economic return… in those circumstances where there is an unresolvable conflict between maximizing long term economic return and protecting natural resources and recreation values, the DNR must give precedence to long term economic return in its management duties on School Trust lands.” (MN DNR; Operational Order #121, Feb. 23, 2012)