WTIP Outdoor News Podcast

Forest Service Payments For Land In The BWCA

In 1948, United States lawmakers passed the Thye-Blatnik Act to buy resorts and private lands in what would eventually be named the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

The bill also provides payments in-lieu-of-taxes (PILT) to Cook, Lake and St. Louis counties for federal wilderness land to make up for lost private property taxes. A valuation process is completed every 10 years to determine how much each county receives through this piece of legislation.

St. Louis, Lake and Cook Counties found out in May the valuation of federal lands inside the BWCA. The findings were not what the counties were hoping for.

Cook County officials were informed May 12 by representatives from the U.S. Forest Service that the county will receive less than the previous amount of approximately $2 million from the federal government in the form of payment in lieu of taxes for land inside the BWCA, according to county officials.

The annual payments to the county from the federal government for BWCA lands will be approximately $1.35 million for the next decade.

A series of appeals, the most recent being submitted Friday, Nov. 11, continue to keep the issue on the table of county government and Forest Service officials. WTIP Outdoor News Podcast Host Joe Friedrichs spoke with Superior National Forest Supervisor Tom Hall and Cook County Assessor Bob Thompson to learn more on this topic.

Pictured in the photo are Tom Hall and Tofte District Ranger Ellen Bogardus-Szymaniak.