Wetlands, Wildlife Habitat Protected in Chisago County (MN)

Chisago County, MN, 3/1/2006—The Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced that 670 acres of vital wetland and wildlife habitat in rapidly-growing Chisago County-located within an hour’s drive of the Twin Cities-is now permanently protected. The national land conservation organization purchased the property earlier this week and conveyed it to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR will operate the property as a joint Wildlife and Aquatic Management Area (WAMA), providing the public excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing, hunting and fishing for Twin Cities’ residents. The property includes three miles of undisturbed Rush Lake shoreline that offer ideal opportunities for canoeing and angling. The public opening of this WAMA will be announced by the DNR.

This wetland property is a significant riparian environment and has a direct effect on the ecological processes of the lake and a tributary of the St. Croix River. “Wetlands link land and water ecosystems,” says TPL Project Manager Becca Nash. “By conserving this property, we not only create more public access to the water, we also protect and enhance water quality, local wildlife, and the natural beauty that makes the area so special.”

This site is critical habitat for fish, amphibians, migratory waterfowl and other key game and non-game bird species. The area also serves an abundant range of local and migrant wildlife including deer, snowshoe hare, bear, coyote, ruffed grouse, fisher, and, on occasion, hawk owl and timber wolf. Roughly 450 of these 670 acres are identified by the Minnesota County Biological Survey as being very high quality wetlands, including tamarack swamp, shrub swamp, mixed hardwood swamp, and emergent marsh.

“In addition to providing prime habitat for pheasants, turkey, deer, furbearers and waterfowl, this acquisition sets aside increasingly scarce public hunting lands close to where most Minnesotans live,” says DNR Wildlife Manager David Pauly. “It’s especially important that we continue to set aside such places in rapidly growing areas such as Chisago County, where natural resources are attracting development that in turn threatens the natural resources. Projects like these help break that cycle and assure a lasting quality of life.”

Half of the funding for this acquisition came from a portion of the $10 million in state bonding dollars appropriated to accelerate land acquisitions for Wildlife Management Areas. About one-third of funding was provided by the Metro Conservation Corridors program, which provides state lottery funding to the DNR, Metro Greenways, and participating organizations to protect key wildlife corridors within the greater Twin Cities Metropolitan Area. The Metro Conservation Corridors program is recommended by the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. Several local conservation organizations, including the Rush Lake Improvement Association have pledged or donated money to the RIM Critical Habitat Match Program to help purchase this large tract of land, which will soon be available for public outdoor recreation purposes.

“What a great asset for our communities,” says Rep. Rob Eastlund of Isanti. “It is so important that we work together to preserve natural areas and corridors throughout our region and across the entire state. Future generations will be grateful that we invested in preserving our natural heritage.”

About The Trust for Public Land

The Trust for Public Land 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 30,000 acres valued at more than $50 million including the recent protection of Pilot Knob in Mendota Heights, the 475-acre DNR State Aquatic and Wildlife Management Area on the Vermillion River in Dakota County, the 3,100 acre Brainerd Lakes Forest Legacy Conservation Easement, the Caponi Art Park in Eagan, an addition to the future Neenah Creek Regional Park in St. Cloud, and the Point Douglas trail near Hastings. TPL depends on contributions from supporters to continue protecting land throughout the state. Visit TPL on the web at www.tpl.org