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Senate Bill Would "Grow" Minnesota's Wilderness

June 22, 2007

Washington, D.C. - Minnesota wilderness areas would get a boost from a spending bill headed to the U.S. Senate. It has over four million dollars for conservation and water projects, according to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (DFL – MN).

“All Minnesotans enjoy forests, whether it's for snowmobiling or hiking. And, this is really about access to our forests. The federal funds are going to go towards protecting the northern forests and, really, our way of life in our state. We really can't just auction off every piece of forest.”

The bill, approved by the Senate Interior and Environment Approprations Committee Thursday, includes funding for purchase of land for the Koochiching Forest near International Falls, land near the Boundary Waters and for the Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge.

The bill, now headed to the full Senate, would make Minnesota's northern wilderness areas grow, according to Klobuchar.

“There is some help for the forests up by International Falls. There is also some help for a project up near Ely, the Superior National Forest, tall grass prairie, help with the National Wildlife Refuge.”

Klobuchar believes the provisions are about assuring access to Minnesota's forests and protect the state's natural resources.

“This is really for recreational use. People are going to be able to use it for camping and boating and fishing and canoeing. Without federal funds to make sure we protect this land, we wouldn't be able to have it for use by the people of our state.”

She adds that the measures, although minor in cost, will pay big dividends for all Minnesotans. Especially the provision for Minnesota's Superior National Forest to acquire the 43 acre "Long Island" in Burntside Lake near Ely. She says that's key because it's close to the Boundary Waters, which is a state treasure.

Jim Wishner/Jamie Folsom, Public News Service - MN