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County approves land transfer to DNR

WORTHINGTON -- A year after Nobles County Pheasants Forever purchased 120 acres of land -- 80 in Olney Township and 40 in Bigelow Township -- Scott Rall and Les Johnson joined DNR Area Wildlife Manager Wendy Kruger in asking county commissioners Tuesday to approve transfer of the land to the state's Department of Natural Resources.

The transfer, which commissioners unanimously approved, will allow the DNR to take over management of the grounds and establish them as public wildlife management areas. Kruger explained that by transferring ownership, the DNR will be responsible for seeding the land and turning the acres that had previously been cropped into set-aside.

Kruger, who had already met with township officials regarding both parcels, told commissioners the biggest concern about the DNR taking ownership of the land was the potential loss of tax revenue. She said that while DNR-owned lands are tax-exempt, the agency makes an annual payment in lieu of taxes.

In the case of both the Olney and Bigelow township land acquisitions, Kruger said the state payment amounts to $18.64 per acre -- above the $14.88 per acre average the landowners had been paying in taxes on the parcels. Essentially, the affected townships will actually get more money now than they would have if the land still belonged to a private property owner.

Rall said both parcels transferred to the DNR are prone to flooding.

"There's no high quality farm land ... on either parcel," he added.

The Olney Township property is along a ridge line, while the Bigelow Township parcel is in close proximity to the City of Worthington well field and is located within a wellhead protection area.

In other action, the board:

- Approved a conditional use permit for New Vision Co-op to construct a 72- by 51-foot grain bin in the southwest quarter of the southwest quarter of Section 24, Summit Lake Township, within the unincorporated town of Reading.

- Approved a $2,310 expenditure from the county ditch authority to fund the removal of approximately 1,000 feet of 10-inch tile along Judicial Ditch 8 in Section 21 of Elk Township. The Natural Resource Conservation Service will share cost in the replacement of the tile with property owner Joel Lorenz, who will establish a grass waterway to help control soil erosion.

- Learned that the county may receive approximately $56,000 for replacement of a bridge on Nobles County 35 that is slated for reconstruction between Rushmore and Adrian. Nobles County Director of Public Works Stephen Schnieder said that with the forced delay in the road construction project, the county received funds that otherwise would not have been available had the project moved forward on schedule this year.

In addition to that bridge, Schnieder said six other bridges in the county have been identified as potential projects with funds anticipated through the state bonding bill.

- Set a hearing for 9:30 a.m. July 5 to discuss the county's withdrawal from the multi-county Housing Redevelopment Authority (HRA). The county will consider maintaining its own HRA, with the addition of EDA powers.

- Approved the parade route for the Rushmore Days of '78 parade, slated for July 8.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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