Crow Wing State Park, south of Brainerd near Highway 371, has grown by 96 acres through a land purchase agreement between Potlatch Corp. and the state.
The new acreage has a variety of woods and vegetation and valuable Mississippi River frontage. It will link the park with the Paul Bunyan Trail. Cost was $1.5 million and was paid for by The Conservation Fund, a Virginia-based environmental organization, and the DNR through a grant from the Legislative Commission for Minnesota Resources.
"With this purchase," said Teresa Thews, DNR Division of Parks real estate program coordinator, "the state has preserved Mississippi River bluffs and expanded recreational opportunities in a part of the state that's experiencing rapid growth."
Another 78-acre parcel adjoining this property was recently purchased by the Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota from Dick Crandall, a private landowner. Crandall got offers from private developers that were significantly higher than the appraised value of the land, said Terry McGaughey, Paul Bunyan Trail Association volunteer coordinator.
"He said this was the right thing to do, to preserve this for the public," McGaughey said.
In addition, two other parcels totaling 330 acres also are being looked at for purchase. They would adjoin these most recent acquisitions with the southern boundary of Baxter. The appraised value of the 330 acres is not yet known, but McGaughey said he fears the $1.5 million appropriated for the previous two purchases -- the 96 acres and the 74 acres -- won't cover the cost of the total acquisition.
"It looks like we might be about $800,000 short," McGaughey said.
But for now, McGaughey and other environmentalists say they're happy with what's been accomplished so far.
"In all my years of advocacy this has been the most rewarding," McGaughey said. "This is such a significant acquisition. To preserve this for the public is very satisfying."
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