Conservation Minnesota

The Gift of Public Land

Thumbnail-Dave-DIn the middle of a morning walk with my dog the other day through a woodlot of snow-draped trees two thoughts rose up in me like the warming February sun:

  • There is great beauty just outside the front door if you open your eyes to it.
  • I have a special thank you to say to a generation of wise people who protected the woods and developed the trails of this little reserve in the middle of suburban development.

First, the beauty.  A light snow had fallen the previous night, clinging like white coat sleeves to the arms of a thousand trees.  Rabbit and deer tracks told stories of other early morning travelers. The tracks of another dog and the person he owned preceded us.   A woodpecker was rattling down the way and cardinals were singing that spring wasn’t so far off.  The sun grinned from the other side of the forest.  For a moment, in the hushed fresh air, there was unadulterated calm and hopeful expectancy.

Second, the thanks. The land free-spirited Fitz and I walked was common to all.  Purchased from farmers in 1976 by a wise city government from conservation-minded private farm owners, these 44.38 acres known as Carroll’s Woods are a treasure anyone can access and enjoy.  The only responsibility is to do no harm.

Thanks also goes to the public officials who had the wisdom to create the public funds that contribute to the land’s protection.  A sign along the path credits a federal program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and a state initiative, the Minnesota Future Resources Fund, with big support.  Their authors are no longer in office but their good works persist.

There are hundreds of such reserves throughout Minnesota, and each has a history made by people who were thinking beyond themselves and their own time.  May we be as thoughtful.  Public land is a precious gift.

About Dave Dempsey

Dave Dempsey is a resident of Rosemount and author of three books on environmental subjects. He formerly served as Conservation Minnesota's communications director.
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John H. says:

Nice post, Dave! Yes, hopeful expectancy is what we all need as winter slides into spring, and how we all must be good stewards of our public and private land.

Anne Q says:

I look forward to Dave’s posts. Enjoyed this one. Thanks.