19 May 2010, 11:59pm
Latest Forest News
by admin

Land board OKs using PPL lawsuit money to buy Plum Creek timberlands

By MATT GOURAS Associated Press Monday, May 17, 2010 [here]

HELENA - The Montana Land Board endorsed a plan Monday to use roughly $40 million from a settlement with PPL Montana to buy more state land, over the objections of some lawmakers who say only the Legislature can make such a move.

The money comes from a state Supreme Court order that says PPL Montana needs to pay rent for the land its hydroelectric dams sit on. Part of that order included damages owed the state in excess of $40 million.

The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation said the money would likely best be used by increasing the size of the land trust that generates revenue for the state. It is proposing the state look into buying former Plum Creek Timber Co. land, currently owned by The Nature Conservancy. …

The PPL money - which has not been paid yet and could be subject to an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court - represents a unique windfall. Sexton has said the agency evaluated similar types of payments, along with the broad authority the Land Board has over trust land and other issues, in making its recommendation.

The agency is eyeing a portion of roughly 300,000 acres the Nature Conservancy agreed to buy from Plum Creek back in 2008. The conservancy now wants to sell much of it to the state. … [more]



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