County-managed forest land, primarily known as tax-forfeited forest land (TFFL), consists of
approximately 2.8 million acres found primarily across northern Minnesota. Although the title to
these forest lands is held by the state of Minnesota, state law authorizes county governments to
manage these lands for the benefit of local taxing districts. The legal framework that guides the
management and use of TFFL also encourages county governments to manage this land base in a
manner that provides “public benefits.”
County governments have the option to retain TFFL in public ownership and manage for
multiple public benefits, or sell the land. The decision whether TFFL should be retained in
public ownership for the production of public benefits or returned to private ownership is
complex―one that encompasses a variety of economic, social, and political considerations.
This report describes the characteristics, uses, and management of 2.7 million acres of countymanaged
TFFL in 12 northern counties: Aitkin, Beltrami, Carlton, Cass, Clearwater, Crow Wing,
Hubbard, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, Pine, and St. Louis. These counties collectively manage
96% of the state’s total TFFL acreage. The report describes the results of a survey of recent
purchasers of TFFL regarding how the management and use of TFFL has changed following
their sale from public to private interests. The report also describes the economic impacts
associated with retaining TFFL in public ownership versus selling this land base to private
Brown, Ross N.; Kilgore, Michael A..
Evaluating the Economic Impacts of Retention and Disposal Policies for County Tax-forfeited Land in Northern Minnesota.
University of Minnesota.
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