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Minnesota Land Trust

Minnesota Land Trust, a nonprofit 501(c)(3)

 2356 University Avenue West, Suite 240

Saint Paul, MN 55114

Phone: 651-647-9590

1-877-MLT-LAND

Email: mnland@mnland.org

 

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Located on the Green Line, across the street from Raymond Station. On bus routes 16, 21, 63 and 67. Nice Ride location across the street, available seasonally. Parking available on the south side of the building and on the street (metered).

 

 

 

 
Land Trust Accreditation Commission    Charities Review Council


 

Interest for Others  Guidestar Platinum

 

Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund

Thursday
Apr122018

Creating a family legacy for future generations

Nestled amongst three scenic Minnesota lakes in Otter Tail County is the unique property of Jim and Joan Burkett. This property is emblematic of the amazing wildlife habitat found in Otter Tail’s lake country and connects to more than 3,000 acres that have been protected near the Burkett’s land on Spitzer Lake. In order to ensure that their prairie, woodlands and wetlands remain intact, the Burkett’s recently acted to protect their property forever with a conservation easement with the Minnesota Land Trust.

For Jim, protecting the land was his way of preserving his memories of watching his family growing up enjoying the land and water. “I’ve made so many memories recreating on this land; from the first duck my daughter shot, to my son’s first deer.” says Jim. “We host an annual Fourth of July event here for the family, and give the kids a scavenger hunt that takes them to different sections of the land to collect things like cattails and oak leaves. It exposes them to different parts of the property.”

The land is mostly forested, but features remnant prairie and oak savanna, both increasingly rare landscapes in Minnesota. In fact, oak savanna is considered Minnesota’s rarest remaining habitat type. The Burkett's long-term plan is to further restore and manage the prairie and oak savanna. Over the years they've seen a wide range of wildlife on their land, including bald eagle, whitetail deer, and American kestrel. Neighbors in the area have also seen hooded warbler and red-shouldered hawk as well.

Pat Anderson with Jim and Joan BurkettJim says that protecting the land will also allow future generations to make their own memories. “Probably the most important thing to us is leaving that legacy for the next generation; whether that’s in our family or whoever owns this in the future. It’s important for me to know that the character of this land won’t change, forever.”

In addition to the land and wildlife benefits of protecting this property, there are water benefits too. Otter Tail county has over 1,000 lakes, more than any other county in Minnesota, and the undeveloped shoreline along this piece of protected land will benefit the water quality in adjacent lakes for the years to come.

“It’s becoming harder and harder to find undeveloped shoreline along a lake in Minnesota nowadays,” says Pat Anderson, program manager at the Minnesota Land Trust. “By agreeing to a conservation easement, Jim and Joan have preserved the shorelines of three beautiful lakes which will help ensure that these lakes will have clean, undisturbed water for anyone who uses them in the future.”

“The work we do to protect the natural places in our state depends on the generous spirit of Minnesotans like Jim and Joan,” says Kris Larson, executive director of the Minnesota Land Trust. “Their desire to leave a legacy of outdoor recreation and wildlife habitat through this untouched natural landscape speaks volumes for them, and means we can now permanently protect a unique part of our state for all Minnesotans.”

This permanent conservation easement was made possible thanks to the members of the Minnesota Land Trust and with funding from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature and recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (LSOHC). Thank you to all our members and supporters, and most of all to Jim and Joan Burkett who protected this unique property forever!

Tuesday
Apr032018

What's a Vernal Pool?

This piece first appeared in our 2018 Landowner Newsletter.

A “Vernal Pool,” You Say?

Forested vernal pool. Photo credit: Distant Hill Gardens.Vernal pools (also known as ephemeral pools) are seasonal wetlands that provide essential habitat for wildlife, serving as the primary breeding ground for several species of amphibians and invertebrates, and important foraging habitat for many reptiles, mammals and birds. They can be found in a number of locations, including fields, marshes, ditches, river floodplains and gravel pits, but are most commonly found in isolated depressions within forests. Despite being an overlooked habitat type, vernal pools are abundant—it is estimated that more than 250,000 are located statewide.

One of the main reasons vernal pools succeed as breeding habitat is due to the fact that they are typically isolated from other waterbodies and are dry during long periods during the year. Consequently, they are free of fish—a significant predator of eggs and larvae. In addition, vernal pools are typically characterized by the presence of certain species. In Minnesota, common inhabitants include: blue-spotted salamander, wood frog, western/boreal chorus frog, and fairy shrimp. Vernal pools are also recognized as important habitat for the state threatened Blanding’s turtle.

Locating Vernal Pools on Your Land

Wood frog with egg mass. Photo credit: John White.The best time of year to search for vernal pools on your land is during mid to late spring once the snow has melted and the ground has begun to thaw.  Because springtime reptile and amphibian movement is strongly correlated with weather conditions, keep an eye on the forecast during this time—prolonged air temperatures above 40°F and warm rains will trigger arousal from hibernation. Before heading into the field, a great way to prepare for vernal pool identification is by spending some time familiarizing yourself with the species that inhabit vernal pools including their appearance at different life stages (e.g., egg, larval & adult).

When heading out to look for vernal pools, dress accordingly with rubber boots or waders and don’t forget to use your ears! Listening for chorusing wood frogs in early-spring can be a great way to lead you in the direction of a potential vernal pool (tip: Google “wood frog chorus”- a YouTube video is the first result and provides both the sound of wood frogs calling and a good depiction of a forested vernal pool).

Do bear in mind that adult amphibians usually do not linger in vernal pools for very long after breeding, so be prepared to look for eggs, larvae and juveniles as well. Fairy shrimp are small crustaceans (0.5–1.0 in. in length) and tend to blend in, especially in pools with a leaf litter substrate, so be patient and still in your observations. Finally, always be mindful that, while some temporary disturbance is inevitable, strive for minimal disruption of the pool and minimize handling of animals.

I Think I Found a Vernal Pool, Now What?

Blue-spotted salamander. Photo credit: NHFG.From a stewardship perspective, there are a number of habitat management best practices to consider when managing land where vernal pools are present:

  • When conducting any work near vernal pools, operate equipment only when soils are frozen (winter) or very dry (summer) to avoid creating ruts and skid roads that collect or change the flow of water. These disturbances can influence the timing of wet/dry periods in a vernal pool, altering the species that can breed there.
  • Avoid overharvesting in or around vernal pools. Removing the shade of the tree canopy can heat up the air, soil and water in the pool, change the period of time that water remains in the pool, and influence which species can survive there.
  • Consult a licensed forester (and your easement!) before conducting a timber harvest on your property. Understand and follow all laws pertaining to tree harvesting near wetlands and waterbodies.

For More Information and Resources:

For those interested in obtaining assistance with wildlife habitat management specific to your own land, be it vernal pool-related or otherwise, consult with your local DNR or SWCD office. For more information regarding vernal pools and specific management strategies, there are a number of great resources available online from the following groups: the Massachusetts Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension.