NISSWA -- A Nisswa couple has protected 55 acres of property, including 2,800 feet of lakeshore on the southern shore of Upper Cullen Lake, in a state program that will allow the property to remain a critical shoreline habitat.
Ed and Frieda Rehwaldt of Nisswa and Mission, Texas, partnered with the Minnesota Land Trust to protect the 55 acres of land. The property, which includes significant fish and waterfowl habitat on Upper Cullen Lake, consists mostly of wooded wetlands and is adjacent to another 35-acre conservation easement that was completed in 2001.
Together, these two projects protect nearly a mile of shoreline on Upper and Middle Cullen lakes.
Funding for the project came from the Minnesota Legislature, as recommended by the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources, which approved an $11.7 million two-year grant to protect and restore wildlife habitat on a statewide scale. The Minnesota Land Trust is one of 13 partner organizations in this Wildlife Corridors Project that is working in 11 project areas to restore fragmented landscape corridors that connect high quality habitats for fish, wildlife and plants.
Ed and Frieda Rehwaldt's protected 55-acre property on Upper Cullen Lake near Nisswa includes 2,800 feet of critical shoreline habitat for fish and waterfowl.
The land trust expects to protect at least 2,500 acres of Minnesota's shorelands through this initiative.
The Rehwaldt property is one of six Wildlife Corridors Projects recently completed by the Minnesota Land Trust. The first project was completed in November 2002, which protects 800 feet of wooded shoreline habitat along Rush Lake on the Whitefish Chain.
Ed Rehwaldt, a retired pastor, said the property was a former mink and fox farm back when his father bought the land in 1956. He bought the land from his father and his brother in 1967. The parcel was 66 acres. One 11-acre section was divided into four lots, now owned by the Rehwaldts and their three sons, Anthony, Dallas; Sidney, Richfield; and Jonathan, Burnsville.
The 55 acres of land surrounding the 11 parcels remain in their private ownership as a result of the Wildlife Corridors Project, but the conservation easements on the land are permanently restricted and protected. The easements allow property owners to retain their land but safeguard it for the future.
The Rehwaldts decided to limit development on the land to save it for future generations.
"We felt it was a special piece of property and it should be preserved and developed," said Ed Rehwaldt. "This way future generations, including our family, have wilderness in their back yard."
Because of its size and location, the Rehwaldt property would have been a likely site for an intense commercial development in an area that is experiencing rapid residential and commercial development, particularly along the lakes, said Kris Larson, conservation director for the Minnesota Land Trust's Northeast Region.
"Not only does the Wildlife Corridors Project help landowners achieve their conservation goals, but it benefits the public greatly by protecting and restoring Minnesota's historic habitats," said Larson. "Protecting shorelines like the Rehwaldts' also helps protect water quality by preventing the detrimental nutrient and pollutant loadings that are often associated with shoreline developments."
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