Trust for Public Land Announces Protection of Val Chatel, Deep Lake Park in Hubbard County
Today, Trust for Public Land (TPL) announces the protection of over 300 acres in Hubbard County, Minnesota as part of its Mississippi Headwaters and Forever Northwoods programs.
The 352-acre property, home to the former Val Chatel ski area, includes the entire shoreline of Deep Lake and a smaller unnamed lake which are located about 15 miles northeast of Park Rapids. The property connects large blocks of existing county lands and a 2,560-acre parcel with multiple trails that is planned to be added to the Paul Bunyan State Forest.
Val Chatel opened in the late 1950’s as a small ski resort that attracted new skiers and families to the area. Over the next few decades, larger ski resorts began opening, putting a strain on Val Chatel. After a number of development plans fell through, TPL was asked by Hubbard County in 2021 to help create a new county park and campground.
“Val Chatel has had a big impact on this area and this is an incredible opportunity to once again make this special place available for public enjoyment for years to come,” said Bob McGillivray, Land Protection Director for Trust for Public Land based in St. Paul. “Protecting this property will not only expand public access to outdoor recreational opportunities, it will also help preserve the natural resources that make the Northwoods such an important ecosystem.”
The new park will provide recreational opportunities for both local citizens and visitors from across the Midwest, with proposed trails for hiking, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, and mountain biking. It will also serve as a connector to the National North Country Trail a mile to the north and the State Itasca Heartland Connector Trail several miles to the west. There will be a variety of campsites available and a launch for unmotorized canoes and kayaks will be constructed.
The property has a high biodiversity significance with a variety of forest cover including towering old growth white and red pines. The majority of the land will be left largely natural, but there will be ample trails and two smaller areas where limited development will be allowed.
TPL acquired the land with support from a generous anonymous private donor, and then donated the property to Hubbard County who will manage it going forward. The property is expected to be open to the public sometime during summer 2024.
“This will be an incredible opportunity for Hubbard County to develop a recreational area that will have a tremendous regional impact, not only for our residents, but also for the people that visit our area every year,” said Hubbard County Land Commissioner, Mark Lohmeier. “Hubbard County would like to thank Bob McGillivray and the rest of the dedicated people at Trust for Public Land that work tirelessly to preserve and protect these very special places, and a very special Thank You to the generous donor that cares deeply enough for the natural world to provide the funding to share it with the rest of us. We hope this park will reflect their strong environmental ethic for decades to come.”
The climate, landscape, watershed, and recreational benefits that would occur as a result of the protection of this property are directly in alignment with the mission and goals of The Forever Northwoods program. Trust for Public Land established Forever Northwoods to protect the iconic landscapes of northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan and preserve a heritage that is at risk of disappearing. This landscape encompasses millions of acres of forest, thousands of wild rivers, streams and lakes, and the northern Great Lakes—all within a day’s drive of more than 40 million people.
About Trust for Public Land
Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit that works to connect everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. As a leader in equitable access to the outdoors, TPL works with communities to create parks and protect public land where they are needed most. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 3 million acres of public land, created more than 5,000 parks, trails, schoolyards, and iconic outdoor places, raised $84 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected more than 9 million people to the outdoors. To learn more, visit tpl.org.