New Public Access Secured for Nisswa Lake

Nisswa residents and visitors will now be able to enjoy direct access to the city’s namesake lake, The Trust for Public Land announced today.

Nisswa Lake, part of the 13,000-acre Gull Lake Chain, is located in the popular Brainerd Lakes Area of the state, but the public has lacked permanent access to it until now. The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national conservation organization, purchased 3.7 acres on Hazelwood Drive and conveyed the property to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which will develop and manage the site for access to the more than 200-acre lake.

“We have been working for 25 years to secure a water access to this lake,” said Forrest Boe, DNR’s Parks & Trails Division’s Deputy Director. “It is a perfect spot for a public boat launch, and will be carefully developed to preserve many beautiful white pines and to carefully manage stormwater.”

TPL purchased the property from Mr. Arnold Johnson, president of Arnold S. Johnson Properties, LLC. Johnson had purchased the property from the Thurlow Estate, anticipating TPL could acquire it for conservation purposes.

“We were pleased to have played a role in bringing public access to Nisswa Lake,” said Susan Schmidt, Minnesota state director for TPL. “This was a public-private effort to the fullest. TPL and DNR would not have been successful without the opportunity presented to us by Arnold Johnson. We are thankful for his help and patience throughout.”

A second phase of the effort is underway to establish an adjacent Nisswa Lake Park. A grant request is pending with the Regional Parks & Trails Legacy Grant Program to fund purchase of two adjacent lots from Mr. Johnson. A lakeshore park has widespread support, with leadership and fundraising from the citizens group Friends of Nisswa Lake Park. Mr. Johnson has also pledged a significant donation to the park, which would be used to match the Legacy grant if the request is successful.

“I am looking forward to the completion of the Park project and pleased that these two public land projects will benefit so many people in the Nisswa area and beyond,” said Mr. Johnson.

DNR’s public access will be developed with input from the community. Components of the access will include a boat ramp, parking, native shoreland plantings, and stormwater ponds. If the park effort is successful, it is envisioned as a natural complement to the access property with opportunities for swimming, fishing, and picnicking, and a pier for visitors to dock boats and come in to town for food or shopping.

Nisswa Lake is nestled in the Gull Lake Chain, a popular fishing, boating, and swimming destination of 8 lakes and channels. The chain supports largemouth bass, walleye, northern pike, crappies, and bluegills. During the summer, the population of the Nisswa area nearly doubles with second-home owners and visitors from throughout the Upper Midwest.

“The DNR access provides the foot-hold we need to help complete this vision,” said Brian Lehman, Mayor of Nisswa. “We’re tremendously excited about the momentum this creates and for the support the effort has received from people far beyond the boundaries of Nisswa.”

Donations for Nisswa Lake Park are being accepted online here.

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, including Mississippi River Overlook in Baxter, Clearwater Forest near Crosby, and 4,790 acres in the Pillsbury and Crow Wing State Forests. TPL depends on the support of individuals, corporations, and foundations.