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Glendalough complex to grow by 48 acres

Published 10:49am Thursday, January 31, 2013

“It’s the next best thing to having that area be park land.”

That’s the reaction of Glendalough State Park Manager Jeff Wiersma when asked for his assessment of a new conservation easement located adjacent to the park. Forty-eight acres of land located adjacent to Glendalough State Park in Otter Tail County is protected from development forever, through the efforts of the Minnesota Land Trust and funds from the Minnesota state lottery.

The Walvatne family has farmed the property for over 65 years, first raising cattle and then focusing on field crops. Reuben Walvatne has lived on the property his entire life, and worked the farm with his brother Joseph. He’s happy about being able to protect his family property with a conservation easement, saying with a smile, “It gives the trees some credit for being there.” Through the terms of the easement, the property will remain undeveloped into perpetuity, and will remain in private ownership.

This conservation easement is particularly significant because it extends the natural characteristics of Glendalough State Park’s northern boundary, on a lake that has already experienced considerable shoreline development. This new easement joins three that are already in place on the park’s eastern boundary along Lake Emma. All told, the four easements add well over two miles of undeveloped shoreline to the park’s nine miles of shoreline. The 900+ acres of undeveloped land protected by the area conservation easements effectively increases the wildlife habitat of the park by a third.

The undeveloped and natural character of the Walvatne property provides significant habitat for a variety of fish, wildlife and plants, including the short-eared owl, the American badger, the common snapping turtle, and a variety of migratory waterfowl and songbirds. In addition, protecting the shoreline helps to maintain water quality and the ecological integrity of the lake.

According to , “Blanche Lake is already very developed; this provides relief from that development and will be appreciated by other lakeshore owners,” Wiersma said. “Developers like to put houses and condos next to state parks because they get this great view of undeveloped land, but the park visitors don’t end up with such a good view.

“We place a high priority on projects that are contiguous to other conservation easements, state parks or other undeveloped land,” says Kris Larson, Executive Director of the Minnesota Land Trust adding, “This is not only a significant legacy for the landowners; it is also an example of the public and natural benefits provided to Minnesota thanks to the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund and the wisdom of the Legislature.”

Funding for this project was provided in part by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). The Trust Fund is permanently funded by Minnesota State Lottery proceeds to ensure future benefits for Minnesota’s environment and natural resources.

The Minnesota Land Trust is a membership-based non-profit organization. Its mission is to permanently protect Minnesota’s natural and scenic heritage through public and private partnerships. The organization is funded by individual members and through grants from a variety of private and public sources and operates statewide through regional offices in Duluth, Ely and St. Paul. The organization has completed 444 conservation projects permanently protecting more than 40,900 acres of natural and scenic land and over 876,000 feet of fragile shoreline statewide.

A conservation easement is a voluntary, legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or other qualified agency that permanently limits certain uses of land in order to protect its conservation values. Landowners continue to own and enjoy the land and pay property taxes. Once created, the conservation easement is binding on all future owners of the property. More information can be found online at www.mnland.org.

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