Audit finds faults with forestry program

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota’s legislative auditor says a program that has spent $44 million in taxpayer money to promote sustainable forestry on private land is so lacking in safeguards that lawmakers should decide whether to amend it — or end it.

The Sustainable Forest Incentive Program is meant to encourage good forestry on private land. It locks in agreements for at least eight years that require the landowner to abide by sustainable forest management plans. In return, they get incentive payments set at a flat $7 per acre. About 2,300 landowners participated this year, with over 737,000 enrolled acres.

But Legislative Auditor James Nobles told lawmakers his report identified so many problems that they should consider repealing the program and coming up with better ways of encouraging sustainable forestry that achieve measurable results.

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