Years of work by various conservation groups, the Department of Natural Resources, the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, Crow Wing County, the Legislature and Potlatch Corp. ended to wide acclaim Thursday when agreement was reached to protect 3 miles of Mississippi River shoreline and 2,000 acres of woods just north of Brainerd.

Called Mississippi Northwoods, the project concluded when the non-profit Trust for Public Land agreed to purchase the property for $11 million using Legacy Act money.

The land is expected to be transferred in the near future to Crow Wing County, which will manage it as a county forest open to multiple uses, including hunting.

A paved state trail might some day also be contained within the property.

The project overcame a number of obstacles, including the reconciliation of multiple appraisals that valued the property as high as $14 million.

In the end, the $11 million was agreed to by Potlatch.

“We’re delighted this spectacular piece of property will be protected after many, many years of work, considerable negotiations and great examples of leadership,’’ said Becca Nash, project manager for the Trust for Public Land.

The acquisition creates some 9 miles of protected shoreline when combined with nearby state trust land, county forest and a wildlife management area.

Fishing in the portion of the Mississippi River fronting the property can be excellent for largemouth bass among other species, and waterfowl hunters have used the area for decades to hunt ducks.

A series of DNR-sponsored Brainerd-area meetings held shortly after the Legacy Act was approved by voters in 2008 showed considerable support for protection of the land and shoreline.
Purchase of the property should close within two months.




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