consultants are sandburs

Monday, October 13, 2014

"New Minnesota wildlife management area"

The headline above is part of the headline, here, that item reporting:

Behind him, traffic was picking up on Minnesota Highway 24 south of Clearwater. While audible, the vehicles remained invisible from this spot in the 604-acre Veterans State Wildlife Management Area, Minnesota's newest. Shoulder-high prairie grasses and waist-high wildflowers stretched to a horizon anchored by oak forest in one direction, cattails in the other. A half-mile of the Clearwater River runs through a corner of the property, marking the boundary between Wright and Stearns counties.

Forty miles from the Twin Cities' edge and no development in sight.

The WMA's size, its proximity to the Twin Cities and its high-quality, diverse habitat set it apart, the St. Cloud-Times reported ( ). The $3.1 million purchase, funded partly by Legacy Amendment and Pheasants Forever dollars, preserved the land for public use. It gave the landowners a way to ensure the property would be maintained. It built upon a habitat corridor that includes the neighboring 1,000-acre Succonix WMA, and stretches to include the Hoglund WMA and the river corridors.

Minnesota's 1,458 WMAs encompass about 1.3 million acres; average size is 300 acres. Pat Rivers, who supervises WMA acquisitions for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said about 4,000 acres are added in a typical year — most of those in the form of 40- or 80-acre extensions of existing WMAs.

"There aren't many acquisitions that we do in this part of the state or on the prairie where they are really turnkey," Rivers said. "The state of the lands that we acquire, they tend to be used for agriculture or they're marginal cropland."

This land on the edge of the Anoka Sand Plain was poor cropland, and that's why, Welby Smith said, his father rented it out and headed for Minneapolis after World War II. The property had been in the family since 1862. About 15 years ago, Welby and two siblings, brother Keith and sister Marion Thorne, took the land out of production and began work on a 250-acre prairie restoration through the Conservation Reserve Program.

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