Rep.-elect Nolan plans to start fresh on land exchange effort

Rick Nolan

Rick Nolan

In a post-election interview with the Associated Press, new Eighth Congressional District representative Rick Nolan indicated that Rep. Cravaack’s contentious BWCAW school trust land exchange bill would be scrapped.

Instead, Nolan said he will make resolving the school trust lands issue a priority, but will abandon Cravaack’s unilateral move and seek a solution acceptable to all stakeholders:

Plans to swap state-owned land in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness for federal land are probably dead and will need revisiting in the next Congress, U.S. Rep.-elect Rick Nolan said.

Passing the bill in the House was one of the main accomplishments of GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack, whom Nolan defeated in Tuesday’s election. It would fulfill a long-held goal of trading strictly protected state-owned land that’s locked inside the BWCA for federal land in northeastern Minnesota that could bring revenue for the state’s school trust fund.

The Sierra Club and other groups have fought the proposal because they say it would reduce environmental protections on the Superior National Forest land that the state receives, which likely would be offered up for mining and logging leases. They’d prefer to see the federal government buy out the state-owned land instead.

In an interview Thursday with The Associated Press, Nolan said he doesn’t believe the bill will advance before the congressional session ends because it lacks enough bipartisan support and companion legislation in the Senate.

Nolan — who also was a congressman three decades ago — said he hopes to work with Iron Range legislators, along with the governor and the state’s U.S. senators, “to put together a good bipartisan proposal that all the parties and stakeholders are comfortable with. And it’ll be a high priority for us to get that done.”

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