CROOKSTON (AP) -- The Nature Conservancy of Minnesota has bought nearly 2,000 acres of prime northern hardwood forest and plans to buy 24,000 acres in northwestern Minnesota that includes native prairie, as part of the group's efforts to protect and restore large-scale natural systems.
The private conservation group bought the hardwood forest near Finland in northeastern Minnesota from Wolf Wood Corp. for $700,000. The site includes what chapter officials consider one of the best remaining examples of North Shore northern hardwood forest in the Great Lakes region.
The parcel has a virtually pristine old-growth forest of sugar maple, yellow birch, white spruce and white cedar, some of which are believed to be more than 200 years old. It also has a number of uncommon plants, including Doll's eyes, bloodroot, and Carolina spring beauty.
The chapter plans to continue to allow traditional activities on the property, including hunting, fishing and bird-watching.
Earlier this month, the group exercised an option to buy the 24,000-acre Tilden Farms property in Polk County near Crookston. The Conservancy is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on a proposal to turn the property into a national wildlife refuge.
If the deal goes through, the transaction would be more than twice as large as any other the chapter has done.
''There's a little over 5,000 acres of good quality prairie,'' said Nature Conservancy assistant state director Ron Nargang. ''And another 2,000 acres of grass that's pretty low-quality stuff. The rest is cropland, with about 8,000 acres that can be restored to wetlands.''
In addition to restoring the natural function of the land, the deal would provide the city of Crookston with emergency well protection for its water supply and would help reduce water runoff in the flood-prone area, Nargang said.
He said the chapter hopes to complete the deal with the St. Louis company that owns the property yet this summer. No sale price was available.
Historically, the Conservancy tries to preserve wild plants and animals by protecting the land and waters in which they survive. The Minnesota chapter, which has protected more than 330,000 acres, owns 52 preserves, including forests, prairies, and wetlands.
Woman gets term
DETROIT LAKES (AP) -- A Ponsford woman has been sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison for murder.
Shelly Brown, 54, pleaded guilty last month to second-degree murder in Becker County District Court. Brown is the fourth member of her family to be sentenced in the beating death of Vincent Jourdain, 36, who was found in a ditch near Ponsford last fall.
Shelly Brown's daughter, Sheila, was earlier sentenced to four years in prison for second-degree manslaughter in the attack. Sheila Brown's two brothers, William and Robert, were each sentenced to more than three years in prison for second-degree assault.
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