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Published November 19, 2013, 10:15 AM

Minnesota audit finds faults with forestry program

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota's legislative auditor is finding fault with a state program to promote sustainable forestry, saying there are insufficient assurances that participating landowners comply with program requirements.

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota's legislative auditor is finding fault with a state program to promote sustainable forestry, saying there are insufficient assurances that participating landowners comply with program requirements.

The report released Tuesday recommends that the Legislature increase its oversight of the Sustainable Forest Incentive Program.

The program was created in 2001 to encourage good forestry practices on private land. About 2,300 landowners are participating, with over 737,000 enrolled acres. The incentive payment is $7 per acre.

The audit says the program was meant to reduce the disincentives that property taxes can create to sustainable forestry. But it says the payment amount is not based on property taxes. It also says the state does little to ensure that landowners meet the program's requirements. It says penalties are seldom imposed on violators.

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