Public Land & Property Rights
Lac qui Parle County Commission tries to stop property owner from selling land to DNR
As the Public Land & Outdoor Recreation Program Manager with Conservation Minnesota, I’d like to take a moment to applaud the sound decision made by the Land Exchange Board (LEB) to allow a landowner in Lac qui Parle County to sell property to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) making it the newest addition to the Baxter Wildlife Management Area and the first successful land acquisition by the Board. Wildlife management areas in Minnesota are important for many reasons; they provide public access for a wide range of recreational opportunities, protect habitat for wildlife, and improve water quality.
The LEB, which includes Governor Tim Walz, Attorney General Keith Ellison, and State Auditor Julie Blaha, got involved after Lac qui Parle County Commissioners tried to block the sale. The county preferred that the property owner should instead sell his property for agriculture purposes. Agriculture is currently most of the land use in the county. The private citizen who owned the property challenged the county’s disapproval in district court, and the court determined the county’s reasons for disapproval of the sale were invalid. The Commissioner of the DNR then brought the issue to the LEB to approve the property sale.
The December 2021 LEB agenda mentioned that the property had previously been part of the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which incentivizes farmers to place environmentally sensitive land into the program to improve water quality and increase habitat. According to the property owner, the marginal land in question was difficult to farm and prone to flooding.
I’m glad to see the thoughtful discussion and sound decision on behalf of property rights and conservation for outdoor recreation, habitat, and water quality in Lac qui Parle County.