Island in MN’s Burntside Lake Added to Ntl. Forest

Ely, MN, 10/8/2008: The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the U.S. Forest Service announced today that 43-acre Long Island, the largest wild island in northern Minnesota’s Burntside Lake, is now permanently protected for public enjoyment and recreational use as part of the Superior National Forest. This island, just eight miles northwest of Ely, is easily accessible for people in boats or canoes starting their canoe country adventures into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and is within view of renowned wilderness leader Sigurd Olson’s retreat.

As national forest system land, the forested island will provide vital natural habitat for plants and animals in great conservation need, help maintain the lake’s outstanding recreation and wildlife qualities, and prevent development that might have impaired water quality, wildlife habitat, scenic values, and public enjoyment of Burntside Lake and Long Island.

The U.S. Forest Service purchased Long Island using appropriations from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The Minnesota congressional delegation provided critical support in securing the funding.”The forests and lakes of Minnesota are our greatest treasures, and I was pleased to work with TPL and the Superior National Forest to provide the resources necessary to preserve Long Island’s wilderness,” said U.S. Senator Norm Coleman, R-MN. “The Superior National Forest provides an unforgettable venue for outdoor family recreational activities, and I will continue to support measures that make these places accessible to all Minnesotans for generations to come.”

“Long Island on Burntside Lake reminds us of what is unique about living in Northern Minnesota, it possess a profound beauty that enriches the lives and renews the spirits of all who visit there. By setting this special place aside we are creating a bond of trust with future generations. We are leaving our children, and their grandchildren the legacy of an unspoiled place, where they can find peace, enjoyment and inspiration,” said U.S. Congressman Jim Oberstar, D-8th.

“Minnesota’s forests also provide benefits even to those who don’t experience them firsthand,” said U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-MN. “Our forests clean our air and water and provide essential habitat for wildlife. I am pleased with the success of this project and look forward to more successes to protect the critical forest resources of our Northwoods.”

The 10,000-acre Burntside Lake is renowned for its big lake trout and walleye and supports one of the largest populations of loons in the state. While much of the region’s islands are rocky, Long Island has an unusual, beautiful sand beach, and provides a rare opportunity for public recreation along the lake. Two small satellite islands to the west now permanently protected are home to a nesting osprey, great blue heron, and nesting loons. The purchase of Long Island will also help maintain the outstanding natural habitat on the state-owned Burntside Islands Scientific and Natural Area, immediately to the southwest of Long Island.

Protecting Long Island as a wild island easily accessible to people holds special importance because it lies directly across from writer and conservationist Sigurd Olson’s legendary Listening Point, a place of inspiration for Olson, where he wrote his books and crafted aspects of the 1964 Wilderness Act.

“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. “Many people find Burntside Lake a welcoming entryway to the Boundary Waters and as our state grows, protecting this access to wildlife habitat and our outdoor traditions becomes even more critical. We deeply appreciate the help of the Minnesota congressional delegation and the U.S. Forest Service in protecting this critical island. By permanently protecting Long Island, we are also keeping intact for future generations the remarkable natural character of the lake.”

Two individuals previously owned the land, and development of the southern portion of the island appeared to be imminent. However, the landowners wanted to explore whether they could leave a natural legacy for future generations, and contacted the Superior National Forest in hopes of conserving the island. The Forest Service proposed acquiring the island and listed it as a high national priority for LWCF funding because Long Island is both close to the Boundary Waters and connected to the 11-mile Burntside-Dead River-Twin Lakes-Everett Canoe Trail. To help the Forest Service protect the island, before the landowners had to sell, TPL acted quickly to purchase the land with its Northwoods Land Protection Fund, while a public-private partnership sought federal funds.

Forest Service officials are very appreciative of TPL’s partnering to make acquisition of this highly desirable piece of property possible. “It definitely fits with our Forest Land and Resource Management Plan priorities and also contributes to national Forest Service strategic goals. Acquisition will increase public outdoor recreation opportunities, protect habitat for several sensitive species, conserve watershed and riparian resources, reduce the chances for human-caused wildfire, and reduce the spread of invasive species,” said Patti Deshaw, Realty Specialist with the Superior National Forest.

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 84,100 acres valued at more than $83 million. TPL depends on contributions from supporters to continue conservation of environmentally important pieces of land throughout the state and throughout the nation.

To meet the high demand for timely and efficient conservation, 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 have been instrumental in setting aside lands valued at more than $20 million for public parks and forests. The northwoods landscape, especially the critical wild lakes and rivers that are within a day’s drive for more than 40 million people, is under increasing development pressure. In partnership with public leaders, the Northwoods Initiative and Fund continue to be essential tools to protect our clean water and northern wild lands for future generations. With the permanent protection of Long Island, TPL is working to protect the next threatened places in the Northwoods landscape.