SUPERIOR NATIONAL FOREST SEEKS PUBLIC REVIEW AND COMMENT ON SCHOOL TRUST LAND EXCHANGE DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT

Release Date: Aug 3, 2017  

August 3rd, Duluth MN   The Forest Service has completed a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a proposed land exchange with the State of Minnesota.  As proposed, the Forest Service would acquire approximately 31,000 acres of Minnesota School Trust lands in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).  In exchange, the Forest Service would convey federal lands on the Superior National Forest outside the BWCAW.  The amount of federal lands conveyed would be equal in value to the acquired lands, and would be selected from a pool of federal candidate parcels of up to 39,000 acres.

The Draft EIS describes and analyzes the environmental effects of three alternatives, including a “no action” alternative, a modification of the alternative provided for public scoping in 2015, and an alternative that addresses the issue of differences between Forest Service management policies for national forest lands and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) management policies for School Trust lands. The decision to be made is whether to authorize a land exchange and, if an exchange is authorized, which lands will be exchanged.

The Forest Service is currently inviting public comment on the Draft EIS. Public comments should focus on any interests or concerns a commenter has about the analysis or alternatives documented in the Draft EIS. Comments must be received 60 days from the date of publication of the Notice of Availability in the Federal Register to establish standing for the objection period that will follow release of the Draft Record of Decision. The Notice of Availability is anticipated for publication in the Federal Register on August 11, 2017. 

A copy of the Draft EIS is posted on the project page of the Superior National Forest’s website: http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/Superior/SchoolTrustLandExchange  (select 'Analysis').  Instructions for submitting comments may be found in the cover letter on the project page.

This land exchange is part of a cooperative effort between the State of Minnesota and the Forest Service to transfer ownership, by a combination of exchange and purchase, of a total of approximately 83,000 acres of State-owned School Trust lands located within the boundaries of the BWCAW. The proposed transfer would be mutually beneficial to the State and to the Forest Service in meeting land management objectives.

The Forest Service has scheduled three open houses where the public can learn more about the project. The open houses will feature informational displays and Forest Service staff will be available to answer questions. There will be no presentation or public speaking session and there will be no opportunity to have verbal comments recorded. Attendees are welcome to submit written comments during the open houses at the following times and locations:

 

August 28 - 4:00 pm to 7:30 pm

Denfield High School (Commons)

401 N 44th Ave W,. Duluth, MN

 

September 5 - 4:00 pm to 7:30 pm

Mt. Iron Community Center

8586 Enterprise Drive S. Mountain Iron, MN

 

September 7 - 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm

MN DNR Headquarters (Lobby and adjoining meeting room)

500 Lafayette Rd, St Paul, MN 55101

 

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