Public hunting land dedicated during Governor’s Pheasant
Hunting Opener helps protect Worthington’s municipal water
More than 150 outdoor supporters and hunters gathered Saturday during the Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener to dedicate a recently acquired wildlife management area (WMA) near Worthington.
The 147-acre Worthington Wells tract of the Lake Bella WMA provides public hunting land and protects highly vulnerable soils in the center of Worthington’s municipal water supply.
The parcel lies in the Lake Bella well field, which supplies the majority of water to the city of Worthington. The soils on 97 acres of the WMA are permeable, meaning they rapidly absorb surface water. Covering the site with undisturbed grassland provides habitat for many species of wildlife and helps protect groundwater from contamination.
The parcel is part of a 1,000-acre complex southwest of Worthington that allows users to walk a 12-mile loop without leaving public property.
“Setting this land aside for the enjoyment of Minnesota hunters is an investment in the future of our state,” said Gov. Mark Dayton. “It also provides critical habitat for wildlife and helps support the local hunting economy.”
The parcel was purchased for $842,000 by a partnership of seven entities that included Nobles County Pheasants Forever, Pheasants Forever Build-A-Wildlife-Area, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Reinvest in Minnesota Critical Habitat Program, E.O. Olson Trust, Worthington Public Utilities and Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District. Approximately $30,000 was spent to restore the parcel to prairies grasslands and forbs.
An additional $30,000 in private dollars was raised for Pheasants Forever Build-A-Wildlife-Area through donors sponsoring a granite monument on the WMA, which was unveiled at the dedication.
The land dedication was part of the 2014 Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener. Dayton led the weekend festivities, which highlighted the many hunting, recreational, travel and local opportunities the Worthington area has to offer visitors.