60 Acres Protected on MN’s Dead Lake

St. Paul, MN., 3/30/2007: The Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced the sale and conveyance of approximately 60 acres with approximately four thousand feet of pristine shoreline on Dead Lake in Ottertail County to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The addition will be managed by the DNR and connects two parts of the existing Dead Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA).

“I think it’s wonderful,” declared Terry Sullivan, president of the Dead Lake Association. “We’ve worked on this for four years. This action conserves sensitive undeveloped lake shore, and provides greater public access to the existing wildlife areas for more local recreational opportunities.”

Otter Tail County Commissioner Syd Nelson agreed. “We’re very happy to have reached this agreement. Our wildlife is one reason people like it here. Conserving it is very important.”

Contrary to its name, Dead Lake is actually teaming with fish and supports an abundance of waterfowl and other wildlife. At almost 8,000 acres, Dead Lake is the largest Natural Environment lake in the state. The Dead Lake Wildlife Management Area will now consist of over 660 acres, miles of shoreline on Dead Lake and a small waterfowl interior lake.

“With nearly a mile of lakeshore and abundant wetlands and uplands, this sensitive natural area provides critical habitat for fish and wildlife, including migrating and nesting waterfowl. It also provides great public recreational opportunities for hunting, fishing and wildlife observation,” commented Bob McGillivray, senior project manager of The Trust for Public Land, who was instrumental in conveying the 60 acres from Blue Heron Bay Land Company to the DNR.

TPL purchased the property for $1,445,000 ($55,000 less than its appraised fair market value of $1.5 million). TPL was able to sell the land to the DNR for $942,730 by contributing $177,320 in grant proceeds under the North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA)[1] and $325,000 in Habitat Corridor Partnership (HCP) funds previously allocated to TPL[2]. The DNR’s $942,730 came from a variety of sources, including bonding dollars, Clean Water Legacy Act funds, and Critical Habitat license plate funds through the Reinvestment in Minnesota (RIM) Match Program. The RIM dollars were made available as a result of partial donations of land value.

“This acquisition had the support of the Commissioner’s Office, local area state legislators, Otter Tail County officials, and the Dead Lake Association,” stated Kim Hennings, Wildlife Land Acquisition Coordinator, from the Division of Fish & Wildlife of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“We are very appreciative that the landowner was willing to try to conserve this property and significantly contributed to making this happen. We also thank the DNR for acting quickly to seize this conservation opportunity within the timeframe required by the grants,” added McGillivray.

Since the plan was announced, members of the Dead Lake Association had expressed concern over the proposed 247 acre Blue Heron Bay development. The dispute reached the Minnesota Supreme Court before being remanded for further proceedings. About a year ago, TPL learned that the 60 most environmentally sensitive acres could be sold separately and proposed a conservation solution to this contentious issue. The Dead Lake Association and the landowner were also able to negotiate important restrictions on development of the balance of the project (scheduled to commence this spring) which will greatly mitigate its impact on the lake.

“The lake is our most important asset; protecting it is at the heart of our concern. We were glad to be able to work out an understanding through TPL that addresses everyone interests,” remarked Jim Erickson, president of Blue Heron Land Company, LLC and landowner of the 60 acres conveyed to the DNR.

“We were happy to be able to help resolve part of a longstanding dispute and reach an agreement with which everyone is happy,” commented TPL’s McGillivray.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and other natural places.

In Minnesota, TPL has protected more than 30,000 acres valued at more than $60 million including the recent acquisition and protection of the Chainsaw Sisters Mudro Lake portage access adjacent to the BWCAW, an addition to the future Neenah Creek Regional Park in St. Cloud, the creation of the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary east of downtown St. Paul and the most prominent portion of historic Pilot Knob in Mendota Heights, Minnesota.

The NAWCA award was part of a collaborative effort led by Pheasants Forever called the North America Tallgrass Prairie Wetland Conservation Initiative III project. TPL thanks Pheasants Forever for its support and leadership.

Funding for the Habitat Corridor Partnership was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCMR).