A state proposal to buy 2,000 acres of forestland in central Minnesota, known as the Mississippi Northwoods project, had a political setback Wednesday.
The House Legacy Funding Division Committee scaled back money for the project, cutting the funding from an original $14 million price tag to $7 million. The purchase had the personal endorsement of Gov. Mark Dayton, and had been described as the “signature” project as legislators consider the latest round of state Legacy spending on outdoors projects.
But lawmakers said they were concerned that the property was valued at just $4.1 million by the Crow Wing County assessor, and that the non-profit Trust for Public Land could potentially receive a $561,000 payment for brokering the land sale.
The non-profit had said that, while a series of appraisals were still being conducted, there were indications the land was worth up to $14 million.
“Basically, we feel that the appraisal’s not done yet,” said Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, the committee's chair.
Passed by voters in 2008, the Legacy amendment uses a state sales tax increase over 25 years to fund projects for the outdoors, clean water, parks and trails and arts and cultural heritage.