DNR acquires new forest lands for wildlife habitat and public use

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DNR acquires new forest lands for wildlife habitat and public use

Hunters, wildlife enthusiasts, and wildlife populations now have 304 more acres of state forest land available in the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest, in three southeastern Minnesota counties.

Acquiring these lands is a part of a plan by the DNR’s Forestry Division to consolidate the fragmented hardwood forest in southeastern Minnesota. The long-term goal is to acquire 4,700 acres in the area to protect rare forests.

A newly acquired 64-acre addition to the Richard J. Dorer Hardwood State Forest near Winona is a great example. George and Margaret Sainsbury homesteaded the property in 1876 and raised 14 children on the site. Their descendants sold the family homestead along with a public access to the DNR this June.

“This property has many outstanding natural features,” said DNR Forester Jim Edgar. “It includes mature hardwood forest, old field tree plantings, and a grand view of the Mississippi River from its hilltop bluff.  Also located here are an old stone retaining wall and a long-unused bluff top quarry. The quarry was used many years ago to provide materials for the construction of nearby roads and river improvements.”

The purchase of the 304 acres over the past two years was made possible with funding from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, one of four funds created by the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment, which was approved by voters in 2008.  The total cost was $1.2 million.

New lands in the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest

  • Zumbro Bottoms Unit, 128.6 acres, Wabasha County, completely surrounded by existing state forest, protects 600 feet of the Zumbro River shoreline and provides public access to an additional 380 acres of state forest.  Located north of County Road 19, 5 miles west of Kellogg.
  • North Peterson Unit, 20.6 acres, Fillmore County, protects 4,700 feet of Root River shoreline, surrounded on three sides by existing state forest land. Located 4 miles west of Rushford along the Root River Trail.
  • Choice Unit, 20 acres, Fillmore County, protects a portion of Shattuck Creek, connects existing state forest wildlife habitat and contains excellent young hardwood forest.  Located 10 miles southeast of Lanesboro along Shattuck Creek.
  • Diamond Creek Unit, 41.1 acres, Fillmore County, protects forested hillside habitat adjacent to extensive agricultural land.
  • LaMoille Unit, two adjacent properties of 30 and 63.6 acres, Winona County, provides public access to a Mississippi River bluff forest habitat, and connects the bluff to more than 300 acres of existing state forest. Located 7 miles southeast of Winona at the north end of LaMoille Drive.

The North Peterson, Choice, and Diamond Creek forest units were identified by the Minnesota County Biological Survey in 2001 for their outstanding biodiversity. These recent additions will enhance management of those exceptional resources.

State forests: All state forests are open to public hunting and trapping, as well as other uses such as hiking, wildlife watching, and cross country skiing. State forests not only provide wood resources for Minnesota, they are also critical to providing food, shelter, and habitat for wildlife species. Of the 3.1 million acres of state forest land in the state, only 49,000 acres are in southeastern Minnesota.

State forest locations: Those looking to find existing public hunting, fishing, and trail access can use the DNR Recreation Compass feature online or can purchase DNR public recreation information maps (PRIM) from the DNR gift shop, Minnesota’s Bookstore, or several sporting goods and map stores around the state. PRIM maps may also be purchased online.

Recreation Compass and PRIM maps of the newly purchased state forest lands will be available after managers complete posting and developing the lands over the next several months.

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