DULUTH — Forty wooded acres of Grand Marais land owned by a business connected to a controversial religious faction is for sale.

To the dismay of area residents, the land, listed for $189,000, has for several years been owned by Seth Jeffs, behind the entity Emerald Industries LLC, registered in Montana.

Jeffs was convicted in 2006 of concealing his brother, Warren Steed Jeffs, who was sentenced in 2011 to life in prison for sexually abusing underage members of his church, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints [FLDS]. In 2016, Seth Jeffs pleaded guilty to food stamp fraud in connection with a federal investigation into diverting benefits to church members.

The religious sect separated from Mormonism after the church renounced polygamy. Seth and Warren Jeffs' father, Rulon Jeffs, held a leadership role in the FLDS church for many years, as did Warren Jeffs.

Cook County resident Becca said that a detective and someone from a nonprofit that helped find missing children visited the area when the purchase was first made, educating residents about the church and its history and beliefs.

Becca, who asked that her last name not be used because she feared retaliation by the FLDS church, said, "There was quite an alarm set off within the community."

"I know people who are extremely relieved that we don't have to worry about them anymore," she said.

A call to Seth Jeffs wasn't immediately returned. Records show him living in Menomonie, Wis.

Nothing was ever built on the property, said Tim Nelson, Cook County Land Services director.

A pole barn with living space was once planned.

In 2019, the county ordered Emerald Industries to stop working on the site because of land-use and septic permit violations. The issues were resolved and the stop-work orders were lifted. In 2020, required site and septic permits expired, and Jeffs did not reapply.

Grand Marais' Red Pine Realty has the listing. Real estate agent Jacob Patten described the property as having panoramic views of hardwood forests, cedar trees and lowlands, with a build site on top of a hill. The land is close to Pike Lake and the Cascade River and about 20 minutes from downtown Grand Marais. The only development is a gravel drive and a building pad.

"It's just a nice north woods property," Patten said.