Counties collect Payment in Lieu of Taxes for state-owned land not subject to property tax
Minnesota’s 87 counties are the beneficiaries of $35.7 million in aid that helps support public lands and provides a critical link in the state’s public recreation system, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
Annual payments for Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), a property tax relief program that offsets revenues not collected on public lands, recently were distributed by the state’s Department of Revenue.
Counties have received PILT payments annually since 1979 in place of property taxes on 5.6 million acres of state-managed lands and 2.8 million acres of county-managed tax-forfeited lands. Dollars for the payments come from the state’s general fund.
“PILT payments are an important source of revenue to those Minnesota counties and townships that have public lands within their borders, but the benefits of public lands go far beyond these payments,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr.
“Public-owned lands contribute significantly to local economies by supporting timber and mineral production while providing wild places for recreation and tourism, habitat for hundreds of species of fish and wildlife, and important ecological services like clean air and water,” Landwehr said. “These public-owned lands are part of the social and economic fabric of Minnesota.
Counties received anywhere from $18,346 in Red Lake County up to $3,792,466 in St. Louis County. The 2018 PILT payments represent a $3.6 million increase over those made in 2017, largely due to legislation that increased the per-acre payment from $1.50 to $2 per acre on nearly 7 million acres of natural resources lands and county-managed tax-forfeited lands.
The state makes PILT payments on public lands including state parks and forests, school trust lands, scientific and natural areas and wildlife management areas, Consolidated-Conservation lands as well as county-managed tax-forfeited lands. Payment rates vary according to land type and range from $2 per acre, to the greater of $5.133 per acre or three-quarters of 1 percent of appraised value. Payment for Lake Vermilion Soudan Underground Mine State Park is assessed at 1.5 percent of the appraised value of the land.
St. Louis County Commissioner Frank Jewell of Duluth thanked legislators for their recent boost in PILT payments to counties.
“We are blessed with an abundance of public land in St. Louis County, but those lands are exempt from county property taxation,” Jewell said. “PILT helps reduce the strain on county budgets by replacing some of that uncollected tax revenue. It’s a very positive development for our county and decreases the property tax impact on our citizens.”
A breakdown of PILT payments for each county is posted on the Department of Revenue website at www.revenue.state.mn.us/local_gov/prop_tax_admin/aclb/pilt_bycounty.pdf
More information about Minnesota’s public land portfolio, PILT payments, and a brief history of major public land transactions is available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/publiclands.
Charles Perry, of Winona, has been named the 2017 DNR firearms safety volunteer instructor of the year. He has been a longtime advocate for firearms safety and outdoors education and a certified instructor with the DNR since the early 2000s.
Perry, who is president of the Lewiston Sportsmen’s Club, works tirelessly to encourage youth involvement in the outdoors. (Pictured: Enforcement Regional Training Officer Chelsie Leuthardt and Chuck Perry.)
Along with a teaching team of at least 14 other instructors – many of whom he recruited – Perry teaches both traditional and online firearms safety courses. In addition, he leads a “Kids in the Outdoors” program, assists with two high school trap-shooting teams, organizes and teaches a program aimed at introducing archery and outdoor safety to kids, and has provided individual firearms safety days for youth who weren’t able to attend group classes.
“The time and effort that Perry puts into his classes and outdoor education for kids in general is staggering,” said Tom Hemker, the Winona-area conservation officer who nominated him for the award. “He does everything. He wants to give back and mentor others in the outdoor activities he’s always loved.”
Known as the go-to person in his community for questions about safety education or organized outdoor activities, Perry has taken kids hunting who don’t come from hunting families but have shown an interest in the outdoors. He shares his knowledge about places where people can hunt and shoot and constantly looks for ways to spark in kids a connection with the outdoors. During the winter, for example, he’s organized events that revolve around hunting for shed deer antlers.
“We all need to do our part to ensure the continuation of our proud tradition of hunting and conservation, and Chuck is a shining example of the difference that dedicated and motivated individuals can make,” said Capt. Jon Paurus, safety training education manager for the DNR Enforcement Division. “The commitment he shows to youth education is vital in a changing society where fewer people have a strong connection to fishing, hunting and the outdoors.”
More than 4,000 volunteer instructors teach DNR firearms safety courses across the state, certifying annually an average of about 24,000 adults and youth. Since the firearms safety program began in 1955, more than 1.3 million students have been certified. DNR firearms safety certification is required of anyone born after Dec. 31, 1979 to buy a hunting license in Minnesota. Youth age 11 and older can attend a firearms safety certification course and receive their certificate, which becomes valid at age 12.
For more information on the dates and locations of available safety courses, see mndnr.gov/safety/firearms/index.html or call 800-366-8917.
All-terrain vehicle users registered for private or agricultural use can explore both the old and new trails without cost Sept. 7 to 9. Typically they would pay the registration fee ($60 for three years) to ride the public trails.
Minnesota has 3,000 miles of state forest and grant-in-aid trails available to ATV users. The state also has more than 200 miles of new trails that were completed this year.
Out-of-state riders can explore Minnesota ATV trails that weekend as well, without the need for a nonresident trail pass ($30 annually). This is the fifth year that Minnesota is providing ATV riders with free access during “No Registration Weekend.” The date was pushed back from June so new trails could be completed, including the 159-mile route connecting communities in northwestern Itasca County, as well as a trail connecting Balsam and Bigfork.
“The September weekend gives us a great opportunity to introduce a wide variety of state and grant-in-aid trails across Minnesota,” said Mary Straka, off-highway vehicle (OHV) program consultant for the Parks and Trails Division at the DNR. “There are a large number of privately registered ATVs across the state. During the No Registration Weekend, ATV owners can check out the public trails for free.”
Minnesota’s two newest trails are:
- The Alvwood to Squaw Lake trail, which makes a 159-mile scenic tour through Bowstring State Forest and the Chippewa National Forest. Enjoy the many communities along the route. The trail is provided by Itasca County and the Alvwood-Squaw Lake ATV Club.
- The Bigfork to Balsam (B&B) 33-mile trail is full of diverse northern landscapes. It connects to the Little Moose ATV Trail off Co. Road 336.
Other recreational favorites include these:
- The Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle State Recreation Area, a 1,200-acre OHV park in Gilbert with 36 miles of scenic trails for riders of all abilities.
- The 100-mile trail system in Nemadji State Forest, which connects to the Matthew Lourey State Trail and the Gandy Dancer Trail.
- The 29-mile Spider Lake trail system in Foot Hills State Forest, where riders will curve around lakes and ponds, go up and down a variety of hills, and view overlooks from the ridges throughout the forest.
- The 200-mile Northwoods Regional Trail System in Aitkin and Itasca counties, where riders will use the Soo Line Trail to connect to local communities and trail loops.
Safety training is recommended for everyone that operates an ATV. It is required for ATV riders born after July 1, 1987. Children under age 18 must wear a DOT-certified helmet. Children age 16 and under must fit the ATV they are operating and be able to properly reach and control the handlebars and reach the foot pegs while sitting upright on the ATV. Trail maps, updates on trail conditions, Youth ATV Safety training and other OHV information can be found online at www.mndnr.gov/ohv.
Educational displays, exhibits, presentations, and music and entertainment highlight the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ annual exhibit at the Minnesota State Fair, which runs Aug. 23-Sept. 3 in Falcon Heights.
This year’s theme, “Public lands, owned by you, managed by DNR” will be showcased with a Legacy Amendment 10th anniversary tribute.
“We are shining the spotlight on public lands because we know Minnesotans truly value them for recreation, conservation and their economic benefits,” said Dawn Flinn, who helps coordinate the DNR exhibits.
The DNR State Fair log building opened 84 years ago; its park-like location provides fairgoers with a great opportunity to experience the outdoors in the midst of carnival rides and food stands.
“It’s a popular state fair landmark, meeting place and must-visit destination that has helped generations of people create life-long memories,” Flinn said, adding “Minnesotans are passionate about the state’s natural resources. This is a great way for us to spread the word about how interesting, important and exciting nature is.”
The new Legacy Amendment exhibit in the DNR building will provide visitors with an actual red carpet treatment, and features a children’s play area as well as information on the many ways Legacy funds conserve and improve public land. Informational displays show how Legacy Amendment dollars are spent, but visitors can choose a lighter activity, such as having their photo taken on the red carpet.
Other displays inside the DNR building include state parks and trails, wildlife, rocks and minerals, aquatic invasive species, state lands and forests.
Other features at the DNR building and exhibit include:
- Outdoor fish pond with about three dozen fish species.
- Photo opportunities from the giant hiking boot in the forestry exhibit.
- DNR fire tower; visitors can climb its 84 steps.
- Presentations, bird shows and musicians on the DNR Volunteer Outdoor Stage and Garden Stage.
People can also buy hunting, fishing licenses and state park vehicle permits at the DNR building. Les Kouba Outdoors will be located in a building just east of the outdoor fish pond. A portion of their merchandise sales will be used to assist with DNR moose research.
For schedule of events, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/events/statefair/schedules.html.
The DNR’s State Fair building and surrounding park area are located at the corner of Carnes Avenue and Nelson Street in Falcon Heights. It will be open 9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily during the fair.
Theme: Public lands – owned by you, managed by DNR
- Historic DNR building at State Fair is celebrating 84th anniversary this year.
- The 40-foot-high building opened Sept. 1, 1934.
- Approximately 500,000 people visit DNR building and surrounding park area each year.
- Gate tickets in 1934 cost 25 cents. In 2018, a regular adult admission ticket costs $14.
- Funding came from federal and state emergency relief administration and State Fair funds.
- Civilian Conservation Corps erected the building in less than six months using machined logs.
- DNR building is open daily during fair from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- Fish exhibit is one of State Fair’s most popular attractions.
- Pond holds about 50,000 gallons of water. It is kidney-shaped and is about 100 feet by 50 feet.
- Fish pond talks take place at quarter to the hour daily, from 9:45 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- DNR renovated its indoor fish exhibit in 2013 installing five large aquariums inside the main DNR building.
- Each tank shows fish in their native Minnesota habitat: trout of southeastern Minnesota; fish of the St. Croix River; and species of central, southern and northern Minnesota lakes.
- Aquariums are built lower to the ground, making it easier for more guests to see the turtles, fish and other species.
- Combined aquarium capacity of more than 5,000 gallons of water, the same amount of water the average family of four uses in a month.
- When full, tanks weigh about 118,000 pounds or about the weight of 118 Minnesota moose.
- Aquariums are open daily during fair from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- Specifically built for State Fair to provide a wildfire prevention message to visitors.
- Opened in 1966 and was closed in 1978 because of safety concerns. Was repaired and reopened in 2006.
- It is 65 feet tall and there are 84 steps from bottom to top.
- There is no charge to climb fire tower stairs to get birds-eye view of fair.
- Fire tower is on National Historic Lookout Register and is 10th best lookout in Minnesota.
- Open daily during fair from 9 a.m.-7 p.m., weather permitting.
DNR forestry display
- Three interactive exhibit areas opened in 2017.
- Step inside a giant hiking boot surrounded by huge leaves for a unique Minnesota photo.
- Explore a life-sized white pine tree, complete with roots a person can walk on and learn how forests create clean water.
- Gaze upon a wall of tree cookies 11 feet tall – all native, Minnesota trees.
- Walk into a “forest” of interactive, informational trees on: forest stewardship, urban trees, forest products, fire and forests and Minnesota’s biomes.
- Play with a puzzle of dimensional lumber to learn how much wood comes from a log.
- Explore the tools foresters use in the woods every day – clinometer, increment borer and drip torch.
- Exhibit is open 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. in DNR Building.
- Smokey Bear is celebrating 74 years of reminding children and their parents about the dangers of wildfires.
- Smokey Bear makes daily appearances at DNR Park at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
- Fairgoers can step inside the 24-foot by 12-foot camper cabin that’s on display.
- Cabins are built to provide a “camping out” experience within the comfort of four walls.
- Cabin has two sets of bunks. Also includes a picnic table and fire ring with grill.
- There are more than 80 camper cabins available to rent in state parks and recreational areas around the state.
- Many cabins include electricity, and some are wheelchair accessible.
- Camper cabin display model open daily during the fair from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- Located in DNR Park, near southwest corner of DNR building.
Wall of Shame trailer – Turn in Poachers
- Mounted animals and stories about how they were taken illegally.
- Display located on south side of DNR building.
- Fairgoers can learn about Minnesota species and wildlife habitat.
- Special sound and lighting effects help create an experience of moving from day to night and through the four seasons, as visitors walk through the display.
- Master naturalist volunteers available to answer wildlife questions.
- Display located in DNR building and is open daily during fair from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Invasive species display
- Learn about the invasive species present in Minnesota.
- Explore interactive displays to learn the actions people can take to prevent invasive species. People can clean, drain and dispose to stop aquatic invasive species and PlayCleanGo to stop invasive species on land.
- Check out the PlayCleanGo pledge wall to pledge to clear gear to Stop Invasive Species In Your Tracks.
- See examples of invasive animals and plants and the impacts they can have.
- Talk with DNR staff and volunteers about invasive species questions.
DNR urges people to use caution when operating farm equipment
Exceptionally dry conditions in the northwest part of the state have contributed to several small fires over the past week. To prevent a possible wildfire, the Department of Natural Resources urges extreme caution when using farm equipment right now.
To reduce the chances of starting a wildfire when working in the field, follow these steps:
- Make sure machinery is well maintained and working properly to prevent overheating and the formation of sparks.
- When cutting or mowing, be aware of rocks that may cause sparks if struck by mower blades.
- Check that all fire extinguishers are appropriate for the size of the machinery, are fully charged, and are easily accessible.
- Carry an ABC rated fire extinguisher – it can be used for electrical and petroleum-based fires originating on the tractor and for vegetative fires.
- Check and remove combustible vegetation from motors, exhausts, ledges and brackets several times a day.
- Remove debris from the surface of the baler using a portable gas-powered leaf blower.
- Keep hay in groups of 10 bales or fewer and at least 100 feet away from structures or other ignition sources.
- Firebreaks – 30 feet of mowed grass, bare ground, or rock between bale groups – will help prevent fire from extending to additional bales.
- Frequently check to see if stored hay is hot or has internal fire (noted by a caramel or strong burning odor, visible vapor or smoke, strong musty smell, or all of the above).
- Do not move overheated or smoldering hay.
- Immediately call 911 if fire occurs and provide clear directions to your location.
- Check the weather – avoid running equipment on days with warm temperatures, high winds, and low humidity.
- Plan your day – take advantage of mornings and evenings that tend to have calmer winds, cooler temperatures, and higher humidity.
Find more information about fire danger at mndnr.gov/burnrestrictions.