Final 200 Acres Conserved On Dead Lake

Two hundred acres on Dead Lake will forever remain undeveloped, The Trust for Public Land and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced today. The conservation deal concludes a battle over the proposed Blue Heron Bay development on Dead Lake.

Over the last decade the local Dead Lake Association has fought against development of 260 acres of sensitive Dead Lake shoreline. The 200-acre purchase announced today follows a 2007 purchase of 60 environmentally sensitive acres directly adjacent to the Dead Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national conservation organization, negotiated both purchases, and the property is now owned and managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and added to the adjacent Dead Lake WMA.

“The fight to protect Dead Lake’s sensitive shore land has been long and hard fought. The Dead Lake Association values the efforts of all the individuals and organizations that supported conservation of Dead Lake,” said Mark Steuart Dead Lake Association President. “Over eight years, thousands of devoted volunteer hours and significant dollars were needed to advance our conservation case through the courts and public agencies. TPL’s announcement of its effort to permanently conserve this resource is a great day for the people that love and value Dead Lake.”

When initially proposed, the Blue Heron Bay development along Dead Lake consisted of 151 residential housing units, a general store, a restaurant, two swimming pools, a marina, and mooring facilities. The Dead Lake Association of local landowners rallied to protect the land from being developed. The Dead Lake Association raised more than a quarter million dollars to support their legal efforts and consultant fees. The dispute even reached the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2007. In March 2007 TPL purchased the initial 60-acre portion of the property. In order to complete the protection of the remaining 200 acres, TPL navigated changing ownership from the original developer falling into foreclosure to a bank forced into FDIC receivership.

“With over 3 and-a-half miles of Dead Lake shoreline, this conservation effort enhances the wildlife area, provides critical habitat for fish and wildlife, and offers great public recreational opportunities for hunting, fishing, and wildlife observation,” Bob McGillivray, TPL senior project manager.

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 more than 875 acres, miles of shoreline on Dead Lake and a small waterfowl interior lake. Four rare species found in the vicinity include the colonial water bird, Forster’s tern, pugnose shiner, and bald eagle.

“We’re grateful to The Trust for Public Land and the Dead Lake Association for working diligently to make preservation of this remarkable property possible,” said DNR Commissioner Mark Holsten. “And this is another success story for the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Fund and for the Reinvest in Minnesota Program.”

“This result proves that ordinary people banding together to protect the environment will succeed when a factual, scientific and legal basis exists to prevent development. The Dead Lake Association thanks and congratulates TPL for successfully acquiring and preserving this valuable resource and thanks DNR for their support in this effort,” added Steuart.

The $2.21 million purchase was largely made with funds awarded by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council from the from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, a result of the dedicated sales tax that Minnesota voters passed in the 2008 general election; and Critical Habitat license plate funds through the Reinvest in Minnesota Match Program.

The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. Since 1986, TPL has helped protect more than 87,000 acres of some of Minnesota’s most special land and water resources, valued at more than $88 million. TPL depends on the support of individuals, corporations, and foundations.