Evaluating the impacts of retention and disposal options for Minnesota's county-administered forest land
We evaluated how the management and use of public forest land administered by Minnesota county land departments changed once these forests were transferred to private ownership. To characterize these changes, the individuals and organizations who purchased forest land from Minnesota's county land departments were surveyed using a mail questionnaire. The sale of county forest land did not appear to produce noticeable changes in timber harvesting or the level of investment in forest management. However, the level of professional forestry expertise overseeing the management of these lands declined considerably. Additionally, while nearly all forest land managed by county land departments is open to the public for recreation, more than half became posted to prohibit public trespass after it was sold. From 2002-2005, county land departments generated approximately US$12.3 million in real annual net income, or US$4.53 per acre. When comparing the capitalized value of annual net revenue generated from the land to its market value, retaining county forest land in public ownership cannot be rationalized solely on its ability to generate income. Yet public ownership of these lands can be justified when the full suite of benefits derived from the forest land's public recreational, environmental, and amenity values is considered.
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