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Minnesota state-owned tree nurseries scaling back

News Bemidji,Minnesota 56619
Bemidji Pioneer
Minnesota state-owned tree nurseries scaling back
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Minnesota's two state-owned tree nurseries are preparing to phase out much of their seedling production.

Although the nurseries recently celebrated their billionth tree planted, the Legislature recently directed them to stop selling to private buyers. Starting in 2013 they can only sell to state, county, federal, and tribal governments.

Minnesota Public Radio reports that worries customers, who fear privately owned nurseries may not fill the void.

For years, some legislators including Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, have tried to close the nurseries entirely, saying the state shouldn't be in the business of raising trees. The state nurseries are self-supporting, but he says they've been badly managed in recent years.

Bob Fitch, executive director of the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association, says private nurseries can comfortably boost production to meet demand.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

Pioneer staff reports