A recently released report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or FWS, provides stunning conclusions on what appears to be a wholesale violation of a federal grant program by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The draft report, completed nearly four years ago, was only made public last month in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, or PEER, which made the document available to the Timberjay.
The 28-page report provided the conclusions of a series of visits by FWS biologists in early 2020 to three state wildlife management areas, or WMAs, in order to investigate complaints that the DNR was misusing its federal funds to support logging urged by the timber industry. The federal funds obtained by the DNR were specifically dedicated to benefit wildlife and wildlife habitat yet appeared to be used instead to pay for hundreds of commercial timber sales that the DNR’s own biologists said provided little benefit to wildlife or were even detrimental due to the environmental damage caused by the logging activity.