43-Acre Island in MN Lake Protected

Ely, MN, 8/25/04: The Trust for Public Land announced today the acquisition of a 43-acre island located at the edge of canoe country on the southwest corner of Burntside Lake, eight miles northwest of Ely, Minnesota. The acquisition was funded through the organizations Northwoods Land Protection Fund which was set up to protect critical lands in the Northwoods from imminent development. TPL hopes to convey the land to the Superior National Forest in the next few years to become part of the forest and used for campsites for people entering or returning from the adjacent Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The island is located across from Listening Point, the former camp of Minnesota naturalist writer and wilderness advocate Sigurd Olson.

“When Sigurd Olson wrote of Listening Point and its wild nature, he often was looking across the lake to the tree lined islands,” notes Susan Schmidt, Director of the Minnesota Office of the Trust for Public Land. “Burntside Lake is the physical gateway to the Boundary Waters for many people and has become a symbolic gateway for outdoor enthusiasts nationwide. By keeping this island protected and undeveloped, we hope to keep the natural character of the lake that has made it so remarkable.”

The property includes two small satellite islands to the west and the Burntside Islands Scientific and Natural Area managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is located immediately to the southwest. The 10,000-acre lake is renowned for its big lake trout and walleye and supports one of the biggest populations of loons in the state. The island also contains a beautiful sand beach, which is an unusual feature for many of the region’s rocky islands and would provide a rare opportunity for public recreation on Burntside Lake. The two satellite islands are home to a nesting osprey, great blue heron and nesting loons.

Two separate individuals previously owned the island. Development of the southern portion of the island appeared to be imminent. The island is listed by the U.S. Forest Service as a high priority for Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) funding because of its proximity to the Boundary Waters as well as its connection to the 11-mile Burntside-Dead River-Twin Lakes-Everett Canoe Trail. In order to meet the timing needs of the landowners, TPL used funds from its Northwoods Land Protection Fund to protect the island. The organization will hold the land until Congress allocates LWCF funding to the Superior National Forest for the Long Island protection effort. Long-term plans are for the island to remain undeveloped except for a few campsites. The Quetico Superior Foundation also contributed funds to support TPL in this protection effort.

“We are pleased that the Trust for Public Land was able to move quickly on this purchase,” noted Jim Sander, Superior National Forest Supervisor. “It not only meets the needs of the owners who had a desire to sell the island to the Forest Service, it fits well with our Forest Plan direction by providing more opportunities for primitive types of recreation outside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.” The landowners had originally approached the National Forest in hopes of conserving the island and Forest Service referred them to the Trust for Public Land to meet the critical funding and timing needs.

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

To meet the high demand for timely and efficient conservation, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) established the Northwoods Land Protection fund in 1999 as a revolving capital fund dedicated to protecting the Northwoods. TPL considers this area to be northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Since 1999 the Fund and the Northwoods Initiative, under the leadership of TPL Project Manager Shaun Hamilton, has been instrumental in protecting more than $20 million worth in public parks and forests. This landscape, especially the critical wild lakes and rivers which are within a day’s drive for more than 40 million people, is under increasing development pressure.