The Big Story Blog

Legacy money to buy private land "an ongoing concern"

Posted at 1:14 PM on November 30, 2011 by Paul Tosto

Roughly one-fourth of the land in Minnesota is owned by a government agency. And using public money from the state's Legacy Amendment funds to buy up more private land for public use will continue to be controversial, the Legislative Auditor's report on the Legacy funds writes.

That's one of the more intriguing findings in the evaluation report released earlier today by the Legislative Auditor. It notes one of the Amendment funds, the Outdoor Heritage Fund, has been criticized for its public land purchases. Excerpts from the report:

Concern about government land ownership is particularly strong in northern Minnesota, where there is a high concentration of government-owned land.

We think that using money from the Outdoor Heritage Fund to purchase land will remain an ongoing concern.

Opposition to increased public land ownership is unlikely to diminish and proposals for additional land purchases are likely to continue to be presented to the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.

Purchase proposals will likely continue to come from DNR that reflect the department's long-range plans, developed before the Legacy Amendment was approved.

MPR News reporter Elizabeth Dunbar is covering the public hearing and tweeting from it.

Legislative Auditor James Nobles says he expects to be called on to do more detailed reports on #mnlegacy in the future.
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Dunbar writes:

In the first two years of the amendment, the Legislature approved more than $450 million in sales tax money to fund programs that were carried out across the state. A similar sum has been allocated for the two-year period that began in July.

Thirty-three percent of the funds go to the outdoors; another 33 percent goes to clean water; the state's parks and trails receive 14.25 percent; and arts and culture programs receive 19.75 percent.

Minnesota Public Radio is among 18 public broadcasters receiving arts and culture Legacy money. MPR received $2.6 million in the first two years of the amendment and is receiving $1.3 million in the current fiscal year.

About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.

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