U.S. Forest Service to study impact of BWCA land swap

The U.S. Forest Service says it will prepare an in-depth environmental review of a proposed land exchange involving state land within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area wilderness.

The state owns about 83,000 acres of lands within the federal BWCA. For years, Minnesota and federal officials have been discussing what to do about it.

They came up with a plan that involves exchanging about 30,000 acres. The state would give up school trust lands in the Boundary Waters and acquire land within the Superior National Forest that could be used for logging or mining — two activities that generate revenue for the state.

Environmental groups have raised concerns about such an exchange, saying the newly acquired land might not be as well protected under state ownership. Responding to those concerns, the Forest Service now says it will prepare an environmental impact statement on the land exchange.

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