DNR to receive Murray County land from Ducks Unlimited
SLAYTON -- A total of 188 acres of land in northwest Murray County's Cameron Township is expected to be donated to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
In 2008, Minnesota's voters passed the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment to increase Minnesota's sales tax by three-eighths of one percent to provide long-term and consistence funding for Minnesota's environment and natural resources. Through Outdoor Heritage Fund grant dollars received through Legacy Amendment tax dollars, Ducks Unlimited purchased the 188 acres.
According to Ducks Unlimited, the owner of the property expressed interest in selling the farm ground for years after struggling with frequent flooding.
"They've tried to do some tiling out there, but it's still prone to flooding, even with the tile work," said Ben Van Gundy, Ducks Unlimited Land Protection Specialist.
The owners wanted to restore the ground to wetlands and wildlife habitat and to open the land to public ownership. As a result, they chose not listed the property for sale to a private buyer.
Ducks Unlimited will complete a survey of the property and develop a plan for restoring ground to its native condition.
Areas that can't be restored to wetlands will be seeded with native grasses and flowers to increase nesting ground and native habitat.
Ducks Unlimited will transfer ownership of the property to the Minnesota DNR, which will manage the area as a Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The transfer is expected to take place in six months.
"Sports groups like Ducks Unlimited just aren't set up to manage land that's open to the public," said Wendy Krueger, DNR Area Wildlife Supervisor. "They don't have the resources to do prescribe burns, things like that."
The current landowner will maintain rights to the land through the end of next year, and work on property is expected to begin after the 2013 harvest.
In addition to wildlife habitat benefits, the restored wetlands and grasslands will improve water quality going into Beaver Creek and the Des Moines River, both listed as impaired waters.
"This is on the upper end of the Beaver Creek watershed and by having wetlands and grasslands on the landscape, we'll be able to filter out water as it runs into Beaver Creek," Krueger said.
Van Gundy said Ducks Unlimited will try to hold as much water on the land as possible without impacting neighbors.
Effects on other landowners were the county board's biggest concern, said Robert Moline, chair of the Murray County Board of Commissioners.
"They will do a hydrologic analysis and that into account the whole watershed," said Krueger.
Murray County will receive $10,500 in PILT (payment in lieu of taxes) payments for the first five years, after which PILT payments will be 3/4 of one percent of the assessed value.
The property will help build upon the wetland and grassland habitat complex in the area. It will be managed as part of the Klinker Wildlife Management Area (WMA), which adjoins the property.
"It works out well for us," Krueger said. "It ties our tow management area together, the Klinker WMA and the Degroot WMA just to the north. It will make it one continuous piece right there, which is always a high priority for us -- we like to add on to what we have."
The parcel will increase public hunting and recreation opportunities and is of particularly high interest among sportsmen.
Daily Globe Reporter Alyson Buschena may be reached at