Skip to main content

Audit finds holes in state's sustainable forestry program

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

The state legislative auditor says a program to promote sustainable forestry on private land in Minnesota needs more oversight or should be repealed, the Associated Press reported.

Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles says the Sustainable Forest Incentive Program, created in 2001, has spent $44 million from the state's general fund in the last 10 years to encourage private landowners to practice sustainable forestry.

The program works like this: For every acre of forestland that's not being developed, the landowner gets $7 to offset property taxes.

Landowners with more than 1,920 acres are required to provide public access to the land for hunting and recreation, Minnesota Public Radio reported.

However an audit of the program identified some major faults.

According to the evaluation, the $7-per-acre payments are arbitrary and there's no link to what participating landowners actually pay in property taxes, the Associated Press reported. In some cases, landowners are profiting from the program when payments exceed the taxes on the acres enrolled.

Also, the report took issue with the fact that there was no way for the state to know if landowners abided by the agreement or if landowners were receiving benefits from a separate conservation easement program at the same time.

About 2,300 landowners enrolled more than 737,000 acres in the program this year, the majority of the land is located in northern Minnesota, MPR said.

The Pioneer Press says more than 40 percent of the 17 million forested acres in the state are privately owned.

At a legislative hearing Tuesday, Nobles said it will be up to state lawmakers to fix the program.

Next Up

Governor Tim Walz

Walz, DFL, GOP reach agreement on state surplus spending

The framework deal includes spending on education, health care, human services and public safety, as well as tax cuts.

Harriet Island flooding, St. Paul

St. Paul to close road in anticipation of Mississippi River flooding

River levels are expected to rise through the week.

Michael Davis

Former Mormon church leader convicted of sexually assaulting boy, 13

It emerged that the church leader was a registered sex offender.

Screen Shot 2020-08-14 at 6.45.53 PM

Lost 1-year-old reunited with parents in Brooklyn Park

The girl was found by a concerned citizen around 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

Screen Shot 2020-12-27 at 8.33.49 AM

For 2nd time, Minnesota farm devastated by deadly fire

Around 1,000 goats and a litter of puppies were killed when a barn caught fire on Friday.

ambulance

Fleeing suspect crashes, killing innocent driver in Brooklyn Park

The suspect fled police in Osseo and was going south on County Road 81.

1497 S Ferry St, Anoka, MN 55303, United States - August 2021

Body found tangled with debris in the Mississippi River

The individual's name has not yet been released.

Northtown Mall Carnival

Around 100 kids run from carnival fight into Northtown Mall

Police say a large fight was happening on the ferris wheel before kids fled into the mall.

Screen Shot 2021-05-27 at 9.29.03 AM

Former state senator Scott Jensen endorsed by GOP for governor

Jensen beat to multiple other hopefuls for the endorsement at Saturday's convention.

storm

NWS already monitoring Thursday for severe weather in MN

Monday-Wednesday should be fantastic weather in Minnesota.

MissingMankatoWomanSideBySide

Body of missing Mankato woman believed to have been found

A canoer found the body in a swamp near Eagle Lake Friday.

Related

Audit finds overcharges and underpayments at Metro State University

The Minnesota Legislative Auditor found a series of bookkeeping and financial mistakes at the St. Paul university. Metro State's president says turnovers and vacancies in the financial and human resources offices have left staff stretched thin.

Urban Transformation: Is it sustainable?

The coming together of people in a city drives industry growth, creating jobs and reducing poverty. But there can be a dark side: sprawling slums, energy hogs and the production of 70 percent of green house gas emissions.