Resident Donates Land for Savage Fen SNA

Life-long Savage resident Karl Bohn has sold his nearly 69-acre property, which is a key part of high biodiversity area, as a permanently protected addition to the Savage Fen Scientific and Natural Area in Scott County, The Trust for Public Land and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced today.

Development in Scott County-once the fastest growing county in Minnesota-has slowed recently with the downturning economy. Instead of developing the property, local resident, farmer and former City of Savage parks commissioner Karl Bohn sought a conservation outcome for his 68.4 acres adjacent to Savage Fen Scientific and Natural Area (SNA). The Minnesota office of The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national conservation organization, secured an option to purchase the property in 2009 and has purchased and conveyed the land to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) as an addition to the SNA. Bohn donated land valued at $490,000 to help make the conservation sale happen.

“The Trust for Public Land is very appreciative that Mr. Bohn chose to leave this conservation legacy for Minnesota,” said Becca Nash, TPL project manager. “We are also thankful for the partnership with the City of Savage, Scott County, our generous funders, and the Scientific and Natural Area Program in protecting this unique property for fish and wildlife habitat, clean water, and public enjoyment.”

Situated a half-hour southwest of the Twin Cities, Savage Fen SNA is a 42.5-acre ecological treasury of wetlands and forest. The newly acquired property includes a small portion of calcareous fen – one of Minnesota’s most endangered plant communities, seepage meadows, maple and basswood forested uplands, a quarter-mile of the Credit River, and significant habitat for a multitude of fish and wildlife species. An existing, disturbed transportation corridor on the property offers the City of Savage and Scott County a unique opportunity to fashion a regional trail through the new portion of the Savage Fen SNA to connect the public to other nearby open spaces and the Minnesota Valley State Trail. The potential for a permanent trail was important to Bohn.

“I had this vision as a park commissioner to have a trail system run along the Credit River and Eagle Creek,” said Karl Bohn. “Now it’s really going to happen. And the fen is protected for the wildlife and for people to enjoy as well. I’m so pleased.”

This larger Savage Fen complex supports 18 known Species in Greatest Conservation Need, including American white pelican, Bald Eagle, American Woodcock, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, House Wren, Brown Thrasher, Connecticut Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Gopher Snake, Sterile Sedge, Beaked Spike-rush, Hair-like Beak Rush, Whorled Nut-rush, Valerian, Small White Lady’s Slipper, and Twig Rush. Blanding’s Turtles and American Brook Lamprey are also known to inhabit this larger complex.

“The state of Minnesota is so grateful to Mr. Bohn for his donation and to The Trust for Public Land for making possible protection of this important natural area as a treasure for present and future generations to enjoy,” said Peggy Booth, Scientific and Natural Area Supervisor. “Everyone can learn so much about how natural systems work at rare places like Savage Fen Scientific and Natural Area.”

Exactly half of the $3 million purchase was made with a grant from the Outdoor Heritage Fund as recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. This fund was created following the 2008 voter-approved “Legacy Amendment” that dedicates 0.375 percent of state sales tax to preserve Minnesota’s water, land, and arts heritage. Additional funding included approximately $910,000 from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources, $300,000 from Critical Habitat license plate funds through the Reinvestment in Minnesota Match Program, and approximately $290,000 from DNR bonding funds. Xcel Energy Corporate Citizenship Foundation and Waste Management Corporation were among the many generous donors supporting TPL in accomplishing this lasting conservation outcome.

This conservation project was also supported by Scott County Soil and Water Conservation District, Lower Minnesota Watershed District, the City of Savage, Scott County, The SNA Commissioner’s Advisory Council, and Great River Greening.

The state and its partners will be managing the site to protect its biodiversity, particularly the rare calcareous fen community. Special hunts are proposed in the future as part of the site’s overall management and public use.

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. TPL depends on the support of individuals, corporations, and foundations.

Scientific and Natural Areas (SNAs) are established to protect and perpetuate in an undisturbed natural state, those lands and waters embracing natural features of exceptional scientific value. SNAs contain rare species, native plant communities and geological features of statewide significance. The SNA system was initially authorized in 1969 with the first SNA unit acquired in 1974 to preserve a heron rookery. Since 1976, SNAs have been designated as part of the state’s outdoor recreation system to both protect these rare features and provide for research, education, and public use.