Sugarbush Forest Protected (MN)

Livonia Township, MN, 8/7/02: The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and Livonia Township announced today the acquisition of 37.8 acres of rare forest in Livonia Township, located approximately 40 miles northwest of downtown Minneapolis. Threatened by development, this land will become Sugarbush Preserve, a public park and nature preserve to be owned and operated by Livonia Township in fast-growing Sherburne County, part of the high-growth corridor between the Twin Cities and St. Cloud along I-94. This project is part of TPL’s Greenprint for Growth, a program dedicated to promoting land conservation as a smart growth strategy.

“Though housing development is both good and necessary, it needs to be done in the right places. Without protection, this important land would have been lost to development,” notes Susan Schmidt, Minnesota State Director for the Trust for Public Land. “Now the unique plants and animals of the Sugarbush Forest will continue to thrive in a preserve which will be open to people for hiking and birdwatching.”

The forest has never been logged and contains trees more than 125 years old. It is one of the last remaining undisturbed stands of its quality of Sugar Maple, Basswood, Red Oak, and Elm in Sherburne County. This property, interspersed with low-lying wetlands, is also an excellent habitat for neo-tropical warblers, wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, and numerous species of woodland wildflowers.

Threatened by imminent conversion to single-family homes, the preserve was placed on the County Biological Survey, an inventory of the highest quality and most important remaining lands supporting native plant and animal communities in Minnesota. Lands placed on this survey are the highest priority for protection. With an interest in creating quality open space in their expanding community, the residents of Livonia Township were determined to save this valuable property.

Residents and township officials approached TPL about saving the land in winter 2001. TPL agreed to temporarily purchase the land to keep it from being developed, giving the community time to fundraise for its acquisition. Awarded a grant for half of the purchase price by the DNR, the township still has money to raise. This national scenic area grant, administered by the DNR, was funded by the Legislature as recommended by the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources.

As a township nature preserve, the Sugarbush Preserve will be dedicated to the preservation of natural communities and nature-oriented recreation for area residents such as hiking, birdwatching, and wildlife observation.

“With our community rapidly expanding, we are thrilled to have saved such a wonderful area,”comments Chris Pensinger, a Livonia Township Supervisor and local family physician. “Residents of Livonia Township will enjoy the beautiful scenery and walking paths of the Sugarbush Preserve for years to come.”