Sierra Club responds to introduction of BWCAW School Trust Fund land bill by Rep. Cravaack

NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release:  Tuesday, May 8 

Sierra Club responds to introduction of BWCAW School Trust Fund land bill by Rep. Cravaack

On Tuesday, the Sierra Club announced opposition to H.R. 5544, introduced by Representative Chip Cravaack (R – MN8), a bill that would set a damaging precedent for relinquishing National Forest land in Northeastern Minnesota. 

“This bill would create a troubling and dangerous precedent, and would significantly undermine public participation in decisions regarding Minnesota’s public lands,” said Margaret Levin, State Director of the Sierra Club North Star Chapter. “It is disappointing that Representative Cravaack would propose to take away decisions affecting our state’s economy, communities and children without a full public process.” 

The recently introduced legislation would expedite the transfer of tens of thousands of acres of protected National Forest land into state management intended to maximize revenue generation. Removing these lands from Federal oversight results in the loss of a variety of critical protections, including the Weeks Act prohibition on strip mining and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review process.

The Sierra Club North Star Chapter and its 15,000 members across the state support the Federal government’s purchase of all of the State’s school trust lands in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), rather than exchanging trust lands for protected National Forest land. A federal purchase of Trust Lands in the BWCAW would more quickly accomplish the goal of generating revenue for the school trust, avoid negative impacts on the Superior National Forest or surrounding natural areas, and provide revenue without any of the risk associated with reliance on international markets for timber and speculative mining ventures.

Already, 40 environmental organizations from Minnesota and the region have stated their opposition to any federal legislation that would expedite the Federal land transfer of approximately 86,000 acres of state lands in the BWCAW, bypassing the process required by the National Environmental Policy Act, for a yet-to-be-determined amount of National Forest land outside the wilderness boundary.

“Kids deserve a good education, but they also deserve a healthy environment,” said Levin, “A sale of lands in the BWCAW would do right by schools and future generations. Rep. Cravaack’s proposal fails on both counts.”

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