September 2011 -- The Minnesota Land Trust has just protected the highly visible 14-acre Miller Island in Burntside Lake. The project was made possible by combining a donated conservation easement from the island's owner, along with funding from the Outdoor Heritage Fund -- created when Minnesota voters passed the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in 2008.
“I want people to be able to enjoy the lake as I have”, said landowner Dr. Carl Smith, who has owned the island since 1978. “I grew up in New York City but had many great outdoor experiences in the Adirondacks and in Maine. After settling in St. Louis where my wife and I raised our family, we wanted to find a summer place where we could have similar experiences to the ones I had in Maine – and northern Minnesota was a lot closer to Missouri than Maine”.
Anglers have been casting their lures along the rocky shoreline of Miller Island for generations. A local boat tour stops at one end of the island to let visitors admire a pair of eagles that return each year to nest in a tall pine. “I think the island should be named ‘Eagle Island’” says Smith, adding “Most people know this as the island with the eagles”. The conservation easement guarantees that the rocky shoreline will remain healthy for fish and the island’s forested interior will remain wild.
The Land Trust has been active in the Burntside Lake area for several years and has protected seven other properties on the lake including Listening Point, the historic and inspirational home of wilderness advocate Sigurd F. Olson. Burntside is one of the great gems of Minnesota lakes, serving as an entry point to the Boundary Waters as well as a source of drinking water for the City of Ely.