More than 2,700 acres near Longville in Cass County, formerly owned by the Potlatch Corp., has been turned over to the Department of Natural Resources.
The Nature Conservancy bought the land last May and donated it to the DNR. It is adjacent to more than 200,000 acres owned by the county, state and U.S. Forest Service. The DNR says the acquisition will help maintain a large block of habitat for deer, black bear, wolves and ruffed grouse.
The property contains mixed forests of pine, hardwoods, small ponds and wetlands and more than 3,000 feet of shoreline on Camp Lake. More than half of the property is within the Leech Lake watershed. The land includes more than five miles of grant-in-aid snowmobile trails.
Officials say the donation will allow more opportunities for hunting, fishing and paddling along undeveloped shoreline, hiking, bird watching and other activities.
“This land donation will be managed as working forest that provides for timber production, wildlife habitat and recreational activities,” Forrest Boe, DNR Forestry Division director, said in a news release.
The Nature Conservancy acquired the property with $3.1 million in private money raised as part of the Minnesota Forest Legacy Partnership, a coalition that includes business and conservation groups, along with the DNR. The groups have worked together to conserve more than 338,000 acres of industrial forest land to provide wildlife habitat, protect jobs and ensure public access for outdoor recreation.
Here’s more from the news release:
 “Protecting the Camp Lake property was a priority of ours because of its connection to Leech Lake and the Brainerd lakes area,” said Peggy Ladner, director of The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota. “What we do on the land has an impact on the health of our waters.”
The DNR and Cass County are exploring the possibility of a land exchange involving this property in the future. Selected Cass County-administered forest lands would be exchanged for these new parcels, a strategic move that would improve forest management for both agencies.
“Moving this land into public ownership is the first win for the public,” said Joshua Stevenson, Cass County land commissioner. “A land exchange to consolidate ownership and increase efficiencies for the state of Minnesota and Cass County is the second win for the public.” 

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