State Forest Acquisition
Priority lands will be acquired and developed as State Forests to protect forests, habitat and provide public hunting, trapping and compatible outdoor uses.
Design and Scope of Work
Minnesota’s population has grown by over 1 million people, to 5.3 million, in the past 20 years and is projected to continue this growth rate for the next 20 years. Thousands of acres of habitat are being converted to intensive commercial, residential, and agricultural development each year. Due to the current recession, land prices have stabilized or declined and a short-term opportunity exists to purchase more value for our expenditures.
Lands acquired will become part of the Outdoor Recreation System (M.S. 86A.06) as State Forests. This project includes the initial land development of each parcel acquired including boundary surveys and signage, well and septic closure, building and dump disposal, and restoration of bare ground with native vegetation. This program is supported by all traditional outdoor stakeholders.
This proposal will protect 415 acres of critical forestland habitat and provide access to over 1,000 acres of State Forest (SF) through fee acquisition.
The Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwoods State Forest (RJ Dorer) in southeast Minnesota is a unique forest biome of rolling hills, goat prairie, and river bottom forest and is marking its anniversary this year. This forest provides habitat to deer, turkey, rattlesnakes, trout, many migratory birds and flora and fauna of special concern. The state land within the RJ Dorer provides significant outdoor recreational opportunities. To provide public access to all of this forest, 170 private land parcels or easements are needed. To consolidate fragmented state forest, 120 additional private land parcels containing 4700 acres would need to be acquired. This proposal continues the work of acquiring key land parcels from willing sellers. The parcels to be acquired either provide access to large areas of currently inaccessible state land or consolidate fragmented forestland, mostly in connection with streams and rivers. These acquisitions will protect the declining forest base from fragmentation due to development and provide opportunities to further enhance habitat for fish, game and other wildlife.
Parcels were selected from a pool of desirable parcels identified in area land asset management plans. These pool parcels were selected from three classifications; those providing access to state land, those consolidating fragmented state land parcels, and those providing protection of a critical forest habitat. Parcels were further prioritized by the acres accessed, completion of consolidation and values protected. All known stakeholders are supportive of these acquisitions including county boards and forest user groups such as the Minnesota Deer Hunter’s Association which has contributed funding for previous acquisitions.
Strategic habitat conservation is defined as an iterative process of developing and refining a conservation strategy, making efficient management decisions, and using research and monitoring to assess accomplishments and inform future iterations of the conservation strategy. The priority setting process for acquiring and protecting state lands described above meets this definition.