Wildlife area near Barnesville gets bigger
Dave Johnson thought acquiring 160 acres of Minnesota land for wildlife conservation was a big deal. "That was back in 1998 when we acquired some land near Downer," said Johnson, treasurer for the Pheasants Forever Chapter in Clay County....
Dave Johnson thought acquiring 160 acres of Minnesota land for wildlife conservation was a big deal.
"That was back in 1998 when we acquired some land near Downer," said Johnson, treasurer for the Pheasants Forever Chapter in Clay County.
"We thought we did real well. In fact, we as a group thought we were all done with land acquisitions."
That was until November of 2000, when Tom and Arlene Erickson Lee and Loretta Erickson decided to sell 500 acres of their untilled farmland that sits adjacent to the Barnesville State Wildlife Management Area.
"I can think of only one other land acquisition larger than this one since I've been around," said Chad Holland, regional wildlife biologist for the Minnesota Pheasants Forever Chapter. "This is real significant. Anytime you can get 500 acres adjacent to a wildlife area ... it doesn't happen every day."
Johnson and Holland were two of numerous wildlife representatives who made the deal official at a dedication ceremony last week.
Don Schultz, area wildlife supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Fergus Falls, said that land is getting more expensive and harder to purchase.
"We are very fortunate to have people like the Lees and Ericksons who want to see their land preserved the way it was," Schultz said.
The original 1,100 acres of the Barnesville Wildlife Management Area is dominated by the 260-acre pond known as "The Black Swamp." It has been ideal for duck hunting.
The new 498-acre parcel of land is rolling hills of grasslands ideal for upland game bird nesting. The parcel also includes food plots for wintering wildlife and 10 wetland areas that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service restored.
"We basically restored wetlands that were once here," said Lance Kuester, coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Minnesota Private Lands based in St. Cloud.
Louie Kamrowski grew up in the Barnesville area, hunting the Black Swamp area often. He knew Tom Erickson and Elmo Erickson, husband of Loretta who passed away last January.
"When I heard their land was up for sale, I went and talked to them," said Kamrowski, past president of the Pheasants Forever Chapter in Otter Tail County. "They were more than happy to keep it for wildlife."
The acquisition also creates a new access for the wildlife area.
"This is a large unit and is long and narrow," Schultz said. "Now we have a main access on the east side.
"That's a plus," Johnson said. "The more public hunting you have out there, the better it is for the sportsman."