Thousands of acres of land, forest habitat and scenic river frontage in the French Rapids area near Brainerd will now be protected for current and future generations.
Crow Wing County commissioners Tuesday approved the purchase of land for the Mississippi River Northwoods project authorizing staff to close on the purchase.
The project protects 2,000 acres of forest and 2.7 miles of Mississippi River frontage. The goal was to protect contiguous forest land for habitat and provide multiple-use recreational access near Brainerd. The county will also be able to utilize the land to enhance wildlife habitat on nearby county tax-forfeited land. With adjacent properties, the Mississippi River Northwoods project creates a 9-mile stretch of protected natural shoreline.
The land is off Highway 210 in the French Rapids area in Oak Lawn Township. The county noted the preservation of the land along the river retains the economic viability of land abutting Highway 210.
The project brought together Outdoor Heritage and other funds allowing The Trust for Public Land, a nonproft public benefit corporation, to purchase the land from Potlatch Corp. The trust in turn is selling the tract to the county for $11 million and the state agreed to provide an Outdoor Heritage Fund grant for the purchase of $11,040,000.
With the agreement, $40,000 of the grant will be used for initial site development such as a forest inventory, along with road and trail classifications and signs.
The Trust for Public Land reported it has been working with partners for more than 10 years to protect this undeveloped shoreline that serves as valuable habitat for spawning fish, migrating waterfowl and the threatened Blanding’s turtles. The trust noted 60 percent of North America’s migratory birds use the Mississippi River Flyway.
Project partners included The Nature Conservancy, Angles for Habitat, Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation, Cuyuna Lakes Trails Association and Delta Waterfowl-Brainerd Chapter. The land purchase was funded by proceeds from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Constitutional Amendment, which Minnesota voters passed in 2008.