Residents or tourists visiting Crow Wing State Park this summer may have 408 acres more to enjoy.
The Crow Wing County Board agreed to support a boundary expansion to the park Tuesday. The park, off Highway 371 south of Brainerd on 1,700 acres, is owned by the state.
A citizens advisory committee recommended the expansion after looking at the Crow Wing State Park management plan, said Paul Roth, county park manager. The 408 acres is owned by Potlatch. The land is located along the Mississippi River between the park and the new Highway 371 bypass bridge.
"These properties would help form a 'conservation connection' along the Mississippi River, a natural resource and recreation corridor along the river near one of the fastest growing areas in Minnesota," said Roth.
Roth said the property preserves the scenic views along the river, protects the natural resources, including wildlife habitat, erodible riverbanks and water quality and facilitates the connection of the Paul Bunyan State Trail from Brainerd to the state park.
Jade Templin, senior park planner, is working on the expansion. He said that Potlatch is interested in selling the land and that negotiations need to begin.
"Any boundary change must be approved by the state," said Templin. "I talked with legislators about this and they support the idea."
A bill is needed to expand state park boundaries and currently legislators are discussing a bill. Templin said in order for the state to be a potential buyer of the Potlatch land, the property must be within the statutory boundary for the park.
Templin said if the property becomes part of the state park, the DNR will work with the legislators to amend the bill to include these properties. If the bill is adopted, the DNR will seek funding and negotiate with Potlatch for the properties.
"I strongly support it," said Crow Wing County Commissioner Terry Sluss. "It is a great place to visit and enjoy."
An open house from 4-6 p.m. Monday at the Brainerd Public Library is planned to allow the public to review the proposed expansion.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.