148 Acres of MN Lake Shoreline Protected

Brainerd, MN, 6/26/2004?- Working through the Habitat Corridors Partnership, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) helped protect nearly a mile of critical shoreline on Clearwater Lake east of Brainerd, including the headwaters of the Nokasippi River. Like hundreds of other Minnesota camps and resorts, Presbyterian Clearwater Forest was established long before the rapid growth of lakefront development threatened the water quality and shoreline habitat of many of Minnesota’s lakes. With the help of TPL, the camp will retain ownership of 148 acres of untouched northern shoreline forest while committing the land to long-term protection through a conservation easement to be held by Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fisheries as an Aquatic Management Area. The effort was funded through the Habitat Corridors Partnership (HCP) and Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM), two critically important funding sources for land conservation in Minnesota. The Nature Conservancy also contributed funding to this project.

The camp, located on some of the region’s most valuable lakeshore property, was established fifty years ago to serve Presbyteries throughout Minnesota, Northwest Wisconsin and the Dakotas. Nearly 4000 youth and adults participate in the camp’s programs every year. Financial pressures forced Clearwater Forest Camp to consider selling a portion of their camp for private development. Before selling, however, the camp’s board and director approached various conservation organizations to find an alternative solution that would retain the property’s natural wildness and camp heritage while addressing the camp’s financial needs.

The conservation easement fits the mission of the camp according to Clearwater Forest Camp Director David Jeremiason. “This solution provides us with the funding to support our year-round camp programs while respecting the natural world. We feel strongly that it is our responsibility to care for this place in a way that allows future campers to continue to experience the same splendor of the natural world. ” The Clearwater Lake Homeowners Association, Crow Wing County, Bay Lake Township and citizen leaders in the area fully supported the effort to protect rapidly disappearing shoreline in the Central Lakes region.

“Presbyterian Clearwater Forest faced a problem familiar to countless summer camps and small resorts in north central lakes region of Minnesota,” added Susan Schmidt, Director for the Minnesota Trust for Public Land. “The place is a Minnesota gem and has served generations of Presbyterians. Their choice to permanently protect a portion of the lakeshore at the beginning of the Nokasippi will impact entire generations of campers, area residents and visitors to the lake.” A public access is located on the northwestern corner of the lake and the easement permits public use of the protected land for hiking, fishing and other passive recreational use.

The funding provided through the Minnesota Habitat Corridors Partnership was critical to this success. The outcome will be a larger natural corridor connecting Crow Wing County Memorial Forest with Clearwater Lake and the church camp land which will provide for better habitat for the region’s fish and wildlife. The easement will be held by DNR Fisheries and managed as a state Aquatic Management Area important to this smallmouth bass fishery. Other Habitat Corridor Partnership contributors to the effort included The Nature Conservancy. The MN DNR Fisheries provided funding from state fishing license fees as well as Reinvest In Minnesota (RIM) match funds generated through the Critical Habitat License Plate Program. RIM funds matched a land value donation from the Camp.

Funded in part by the Minnesota Legislature, as recommended by the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCMR), the Habitat Corridors Partnership works to restore, enhance and conserve habitat corridors for the purpose of sustaining fish, wildlife and native plant communities for all generations. Funding is provided by the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund and the participating partners. The Partnership provides for statewide coordination of existing federal, state and private land and water conservation programs and focuses resources on identified habitat corridors. The Partnership is one of the largest conservation collaborations in the country.

Presbyterian Clearwater Forest, Inc. located in the beautiful Brainerd Lakes Area in central Minnesota, is a ministry of conferences, retreat camps and stewardship of: the Presbyteries of the Twin Cities Area; Minnesota Valleys; Northern Waters; Northern Plains; and the Synod of Lakes and Prairies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Clearwater Forest is one of the special ministries made possible by local Presbyteries and the Synod.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Established in 1972, TPL is the only national nonprofit working exclusively to protect land for public enjoyment and use. In Minnesota, TPL has protected more than 25,000 acres of land and worked with fast-growing communities to identify and set aside critical open space for people. TPL depends on contributions from supporters to continue protecting land throughout the state. Visit TPL on the web at www.tpl.org