Letter: Attack on public recreation land
On Saturday, Feb. 18 the League of Women Voters sponsored a conversation with three Republican legislators. Representative Green and Senator Utke have authored or co-authored six bills that would in various ways reduce the amount of public land a...
On Saturday, Feb. 18 the League of Women Voters sponsored a conversation with three Republican legislators. Representative Green and Senator Utke have authored or co-authored six bills that would in various ways reduce the amount of public land available to the public for all kinds of recreation (hunting, snowmobiling, ATV, hiking, blueberry picking, and more). Public land belongs to everyone in Minnesota. We can use it for recreation at any time. Representative Green criticizes public land because it produces a loss of county property tax revenue. What he doesn't tell you is to make up for part of the lost property tax base, our income taxes are increased by an average of $13 per Minnesota household per year (less if you are low income, more if you are high income). These funds are called payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) and are paid back to the county. The cost to use 8.5 million acres of Minnesota public land for recreation is cheap for the benefit we gain, especially for people who don't own land.
Recreation in the Park Rapids, Hubbard County area amounts to about $33 million dollars per year. A good portion of that amount comes from public land recreational use. Adding recreational dollars (tourism) from public land use to the small increase in income taxes (PILT) more than makes up for any loss in the county property tax base. In addition, timber sales from public land adds money to the county coffers and supports a large forest industry in Hubbard county.
Don't be misled by these two legislators. Let Senator Utke (651-296-9651) and Representative Green (651-296-9918) know that you value public land and they need to pull their six bills that would, in various ways, reduce the amount of public recreation land. Also, call Representative Fabian, the chair of the House Natural Resource Committee (651-296-9635).
These six bills are anti-sportsmen, anti-hunting and anti-logging.
Remember, public land users vote!