Environmentalists are suing to block a land swap between the United States Forest Service and PolyMet Mining saying that the land was grossly undervalued.
The Forest Service priced its property at $550 per acre for its value as timberland, based on sales of similar forests in Michigan and Wisconsin, said Paula Maccabee, an attorney with WaterLegacy.
But, she said, the Forest Service violated federal rules because it should have valued the parcels as much more valuable mineral lands, since that’s why PolyMet wants them. Maccabee said that in its own appraisal, the Forest Service said mineral lands in Minnesota were being sold at an average price of $1,645 per acre. In addition, she said, Kennecott Exploration Co. which is exploring for copper nearby, has paid up to an average of $3,885 per acre.