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Published July 17, 2012, 10:25 AM

Minnesota DNR purchases land in Becker County

Becker County, MN (WDAY TV) - Land prices are pushing higher. Conservation agencies say it's getting more common to run into resistance when trying to purchase land.

Becker County, MN (WDAY TV) - Land prices are pushing higher. Conservation agencies say it's getting more common to run into resistance when trying to purchase land.

The Minnesota DNR says it's a constant struggle - agriculture, versus conservation. They say it's getting harder to obtain Wildlife Management Areas.

Lori Dowling – Minnesota DNR Northwest Regional Director: "As prices for land rises, it's even more pressure. We need to be smarter about where we are investing."

The DNR just picked up a parcel of land in Becker County, just north of Lake Park, now part of the Cuba Township Wildlife Management Area.

The Becker County Board says they let they the DNR buy 32 acres of land because it seemed like a natural fit. It's right next to a wildlife management area. They say if it was a better plot of land, better used for farming, it could be a different story.

Barry Nelson – Becker County Commissioner: "When you add parcel after parcel they start adding up and you do notice."

Becker County Commissioner Barry Nelson says financially, it doesn't make sense to lose valuable parcels of farmland to conservation.

Barry Nelson: "The smaller townships and school districts hurt more when these parcels get taken out of tax roles."

The county's compensated for the loss of taxes on land the DNR purchases with what's called PILT payments. Nelson says sometimes it's not enough.

Barry Nelson: "It's only $1.03, it should be $2.03."

Nelson says the county's economy is first, conservation is second. It's a constant job to balance the two. At one time, people were worried the state would cut PILT payments.

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