At Minnesota Public Radio, Dan Gunderson cuts to the chase in Money, race, politics tangle northern Minnesota land deal, a report on the White Earth Band of Ojibwe's request to the Outdoor Heritage Council to buy 2,000 acres by the Wild Rice River using a $2 million Minnesota Legacy Amendment grant.
Here are the money graphs:
. . . "Let's take the race element out of it, let's take the natives owning property out of it," she said. "I'd like for everyone involved to look at not who's owning the property, just what will this do for conservation."
There doesn't seem to be any question the land, owned now by Potlach Corp., is worth conserving. The parcels totaling 2,034 acres, are nearly surrounded by state wildlife management areas. The land White Earth wants to buy would be open for public use, much like state wildlife areas. . . .
Protecting this land from development will help protect water and wildlife, Chris Knopf, major gifts officer with the Indian Land Tenure Foundation, said as he walked part of the property recently, a trail across a grassland surrounded by pines, poplar and aspen by the Wild Rice River.
White Earth, he added, is concerned about protecting water flowing into nearby Lower Rice Lake, a prolific wild rice lake where tribal members harvest thousands of pounds of rice every fall.
"The project stands on its own for its conservation merits. That's really gotta be the focus of the Outdoor Heritage Fund and the legislators as well," said Knopf, whose nonprofit works with tribes across the country to "help recover traditional lands." . . .
Susan Olson, who sits on the outdoor heritage council with McNamara, supported the White Earth project last year and will vote for it again this year.
She calls concerns about property taxes and non-state land ownership red herrings.
"If you put anybody else's name on this, if you just pretended that this was some county that was doing this ... everybody would be like, 'Oh my god, this is the best project ever,'" she said. "But it's all about who's asking for the money."
Check the entire MPR story.
Back in August, Bluestem had reported that the band was trying again in White Earth Nation re-submits Wild Rice River forest habitat project to Lessard-Sams Council.
Here's a fact sheet about the proposal:
And the proposal itself:
Finally, a map of Minnesota's ecosystems to put the project in context:
Photo: A scene from the proposal.
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