Cook County and Forest Service continue to work on BWCAW land exchange
Cook County and the U.S. Forest Service continue to work on a possible exchange of 1,980 acres of Cook County land within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) for Forest Service parcels in other parts of the county.
On Tuesday, Jan. 8, the board discussed the possibility of trading acre for acre (which would require legislative approval) instead of by the assessed value of the land. The county has prioritized a list of Forest Service properties it is interested in, but the board discussed the difficulty of setting those priorities without knowing how each parcel would be valued when it gets assessed. The priorities can still be moved around after the appraisal, however.
No one knows how the land will be valued, because the county’s BWCAW land cannot be developed but it does include a lot of lakeshore, which in private hands would generate a lot of property tax. Similarly, how resources such as gravel on the Forest Service land will be valued remains to be seen.