Hidden Pages

Wetland Habitat Protection Program Underway!

Undeveloped shoreline along Otter Lake provides important habitat and ecosystem services that are now protected for generations to come.Wetlands act as the “kidneys of the landscape,” filtering runoff that flows into lakes, streams, rivers, and underground aquifers. They also provide critical nesting and feeding habitat to many species and are a distinct feature of the Minnesota landscape. Yet the area that they cover in the state has been cut in half since pre-settlement. Wetland loss is particularly severe in the western, prairie-pothole region, where over 90% of wetlands are gone.

            The Minnesota Land Trust is working to combat wetland loss with its new and innovative Wetland Habitat Protection Plan. The program uses a market-based and cost-effective approach to acquire conservation easements from private landowners in the Prairie-Forest transition area in Central Minnesota. The project was made possible by grants from the Outdoor Heritage Fund and the McKnight Foundation.

          One of the first project complexes under the Wetland Protection Program has been completed around Otter Tail Lake and Little Crow Lake in Lida and Dora Townships. The properties, which have been in landowner, Carol Kratzke’s family for decades, include sensitive shoreline, aquatic ecosystems, prairie, and hardwood forests that provide important habitat to a variety of plant and animal species, especially amphibians and migratory songbirds.

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Sensitive Shoreline Protected from Development in Cass County

Like many scenic areas in Minnesota, development on One Lake, about seven miles northeast of Backus in Cass County, is exploding. Small lake cabins are being expanded and converted into winterized, year-round dwellings, and increasing numbers of vacation homes pop up along lake shores.

In the face of such changes, sensitive shorelines are impacted. Thanks to the Outdoor Heritage Fund and in partnership with the Leech Lake Area Watershed Foundation (LLAWF),the Minnesota Land Trust has protected 1,Undeveloped shoreline creates a much better environment for fish habitat, and improves lake water quality.521 feet of pristine sensitive shoreline on One Lake (also known as Sand Lake) in an effort to preserve the conservation and scenic values of the area.

The conservation agreement protects over 40 acres of woodlands, mixed northern hardwoods, and diverse wetland types interspersed with open grasslands. These natural terrestrial and aquatic communities provide significant habitat and foraging grounds for a large variety of plant and wildlife species, including black bears, bald eagles, common loons, red-necked grebes, and least darters. The easement also provides outstanding scenic views visible from highway 84.

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Unique Moose Lake Wildlife Habitat Preserved for Generations

Realizing a dream of creating a nature sanctuary along the busy I-35 corridor has been a bucket list item for Minnesota nature photographer Craig Blacklock and his wife Honey. For years, the Blacklocks have acquired acreage in the Moose Lake area with the intention of someday finding a permanent way to protect the land from development.  

Earlier this week, this dream became a reality on their land located in Carlton and Pine Counties. The beautiful photograph above was taken by Craig, and shows the extraordinary natural beauty and exceptional wildlife habitat found on the Blacklock property.

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A work in progress: Peregrine Falcon Chicks!

Each year, a nesting pair of peregrine falcons return to a safe and secure nest on the Mississippi River blufftops because the land is protected by the Howe family with a conservation easement held by the Minnesota Land Trust. (click on the space below to activate the live video cam)

In the next few weeks, chicks will hatch. Bob Anderson from the Raptor Resource Project will come to band the chicks so their progress can be tracked over the years.

The Howes tell us that they had received offers from developers - and why not? Their spectacular property overlooks the Mississippi River and is only a few minutes from LaCrescent: perfect for development.

But the family made a decision to value the wildlife above the significant monetary return they might have realized on their property.

We're grateful for their generosity, and we're grateful for the gifts of so many of our members who help to make projects like this one possible.

Your support makes a difference. Can you help?

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