Landowner threatens to close access to Northern Minn. forest

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A timber company that owns nearly 300,000 acres of Northern Minnesota is threatening to close the land to hunters, hikers and snowmobilers.

WDIO in Duluth reports Mississippi-based Molpus Woodland Group is upset that a tax break for allowing the public to use its land has been cut by 95 percent. The incentive was worth $2 million a few years ago, but the state's Sustainable Forestry Incentives Act program is now capped at $100,000.

The company is demanding lawmakers find a way to restore the money during the current legislative session that ends in May.

Last fall, Molpus blocked motorized access to 128,000 acres, mostly in northern St. Louis County, the Duluth News Tribune reported.

The company's Minnesota property manager told the newspaper it was a direct result of the loss of tax incentives.

"It's very difficult to manage this land based just on the timber sales revenues now with prices so low and still paying taxes. If we want to keep the land in production and open to public access, there has to be another source of revenue," said Craig Halla.

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