LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Consider the benefits of more public lands
State Rep. Steve Green (letters, Jan. 10) voices opposition to public ownership of recreational lands and lands of value for long-term management for other reasons such as watershed protection or preservation of critical habitats. His argument se...
State Rep. Steve Green (letters, Jan. 10) voices opposition to public ownership of recreational lands and lands of value for long-term management for other reasons such as watershed protection or preservation of critical habitats. His argument seems to hinge solely on the tax base implications of land being transferred off tax rolls when people choose to sell their properties directly or indirectly into public, non-taxed status. I would argue that public lands are critical to the immense recreational economy that we have in Minnesota and that more public lands results in higher values for private lands that remain taxed. However there is already the payment in lieu of taxes provision that makes these public lands not “untaxed,” and that is really the vehicle that may need to be tuned to address the perceived shortfalls of which Rep. Green seems so fearful.
No net loss of taxable lands is only supported by a view that there are no net gains of having land protected from future development. The public lands in Minnesota are the legacy of the citizenry for future generations. They need to continually increase rather than be diminished as farms are abandoned and rights of way are no longer needed so that we preserve the landscapes in which we all take pride and which in turn contribute immensely to our quality of life.
Separate the tax issue from the transfers of land from private to public. Develop another mechanism to support the counties that have the foresight to preserve open spaces. Realize that the local economy benefits financially in many ways from having those public lands, rather than having them bought by wealthier land companies for future subdivision or other development. No net gain of public lands after all means more continued loss of open spaces for sports, recreation, and simple tranquility.