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Letter to the Editor (Verndale Sun)

To the Editor:

The Potlatch Company was a private company that owned and harvested timber in Wadena County for decades. In the last 15 years they discontinued operations and started to sell land off to private owners. In 2015, they sold 2006 acres to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). About 10% of the county is owned by the DNR or the state of Minnesota.

In 2020, Potlatch sold 3300 acres to the Conservation Fund group. They are a private environmental group located outside the state of Minnesota. Their goals here and other places around the country are preservation of land in a natural manner. They buy the land and resell it over a period of time to groups like the DNR, counties and tribal governments.

They sell it with restrictions in place that require it to be kept intact for the most part, in the same current natural state and as a working forest. It cannot and will not be sold to private parties in the foreseeable decades. It will have use and protections similar to DNR land.

Now they are preparing to sell these 3300 acres. In 2021, Wadena County formed a committee to stay involved in this process to see if there was a chance to secure these acres for use by all county residents.

That seemed remote based on county finances, but now the chances of that happening are a possibility. The work done by the committee shows the possibility that the county could acquire these lands at no cost to county residents and at the same time significantly increase revenue from timber sales, over real estate taxes currently paid and even more over what PLT (payment in lieu of taxes) payments would be should it end up owned by the state of Minnesota.

At the same time we would work with the DNR to help them secure access to some of their properties.

Remember, selling this property to individuals is no longer an option and will not happen in the foreseeable decades.

This looks to be a one time opportunity for Wadena County residents for use and at the same time an increase in tax/timber revenue to hold our levies in check.

A board work session is scheduled for April 11 and a board vote will take place on April 18 at the regular meeting. There is a hard deadline to submit our application for this project. Any comments are appreciated.

Murlyn Kreklau

District 4 Commissioner


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