Mark Jacobs, Aitkin County
Aitkin County Land Commisioner
The Aitkin County Land Department (ACLD) is responsible for managing the natural resources on the approx. 222,000 acres of Aitkin County tax forfeited lands. This in done in a variety of ways by managing the timber, the recreational opportunities, and the roads that are on these lands to provide access for different reasons to the lands. Our objective is to manage these lands in an environmentally, economically, and socially sound manner.
What aspect or aspects of the VFVC initiative will have the most lasting value for your organization, the forest or the state?
Through VFVC, folks with seemingly differing views on Minnesota forests came together and realized that we have more common ground than differences relative to our forests. That created an environment of mutual respect for differing viewpoints and more of a “shared vision” as to the really big issues facing our forests. This has been and will be beneficial for MN forests.
What new experience have you had recently that impacts the way you view Minnesota’s forests?
I’ve worked with MN forests for over 30-years so new experiences are rare; but I did recently learn that some folks are making beer out of spruce-tips (and sampled some) – how cool is that?
In what way or ways do you see the work continuing that grew out of the VFVC initiative?
VFVC is the only endeavor that has made a meaningful connection between our northern forests and northern rural communities. A recent survey by Minnesota Environmental Partnership (with help from VFVC) indicated that that vast majority of folks in Minnesota greatly appreciate our forests. But recently I was at a meeting, primarily of elected officials from rural Minnesota that seemed to view public forestlands as a burden to rural Minnesotans. That apparent disconnect leads me to the conclusion that our work is not done.
What do you hope Minnesotans perceive about their forests today?
I hope that Minnesotan’s truly appreciate our northern forests for the economic-environmental-social benefits they provide. We need to realize that forests are long-lived and that a short-sighted approach will not work.