Easement exchange between UPM Blandin and Minnesota Power will restore 160 acres of forestland
Grand Rapids, Minn.—UPM Blandin and Minnesota Power (MP) have agreed to an easement exchange that will re-establish 160 acres of forest land north of Taconite.
MP is vacating an existing utility easement for No. 94 transmission line on Blandin forest land. In exchange, Blandin has granted MP a 130-acre utility easement on UPM land north of Nashwauk to establish an electric transmission line that will shore up regional reliability for Iron Range communities and the area’s Essar Steel project.
This project restores more than 70 acres of wetlands and 90 acres of upland forest, and reconnects approximately 15,000 acres of forest land.
“The prior No. 94 transmission line created a 9.4 mile long corridor through the center of a 15,000 acre tract of Blandin forest land that is now covered by a conservation easement,” said Joe Maher, UPM Blandin General Manager. “The new No. 94 line is 8.3 miles of right of way and confined to a few smaller tracts of forest land and allows us to substantially reduce forest fragmentation.”
This land exchange is in accordance with the Upper Mississippi Forest Project conservation easement agreement Blandin signed with the State of Minnesota in 2010 on 187,876 acres of UPM-owned forest land in Northern Minnesota. Under the conservation easement, UPM retains ownership of the land and will continue to use it as a working forest. The easement provides the public with access for recreational purposes such as hunting, fishing, hiking and snowmobiling in perpetuity.
“We are proud to partner with Blandin on this important conservation project,” said Brad Oachs, Minnesota Power Chief Operating Officer. “This agreement is not only beneficial to our customers on the Iron Range; it’s an example of Minnesota Power’s commitment to environmental stewardship. This exchange improves the quality of life in this region and enhances the environment we all value and enjoy.”
The utility easement is significant because it restores large blocks of Blandin forest land and ensures that the land is protected from development and will be a working forest managed under Blandin’s unique Smart Forestry system, which is designed to enhance productivity and support economic and environmental sustainability.
“This agreement between UPM Blandin and MP illustrates how the Upper Mississippi Forest Project Conservation Easement promotes and protects our existing forest land management program,” said Maher. “We look for opportunities to reduce fragmentation, restore habitat, increase ecological diversity and promote forest productivity. This agreement to re-route the No. 94 corridor allows us to achieve all of these.”
Preliminary studies of the site have begun already in preparation for a spring 2013 planting of 81,000 white spruce and red and white pine seedlings.