Minnesota DNR seeks to acquire part of Ramsey Mill Pond north of Austin

(ABC 6 News) – The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is moving to acquire part of Ramsey Mill Pond north of Austin.

On Tuesday, the Mower County Board unanimously approved a plan for the Minnesota DNR to finalize the purchase of 22.5 acres – mostly covered by the Cedar River State Water Trail – in Lansing Township from Ramsey Golf Club. This business used to operate the Ramsey Golf Course across the river from The Old Mill Restaurant and Ramsey Dam.

The Minnesota DNR said much of the pond will become publicly owned by this summer as county board approval was necessary for the transaction of private land to public ownership.

With a finalized purchase expected this summer, the near 23 acres would become part of the DNR’s 395-acre Ramsey Mill Pond Wildlife Management Area (WMA) that borders the acquisition area to the south, east and north. On the south side, it borders the DNR’s Wild Indigo Scientific Natural Area (SNA) trail where its western end starts.

The WMA is named after Ramsey Mill Pond, a mile-long stretch of the Cedar River behind Ramsey Dam that covers about 53 water acres. It is Mower County’s largest waterbody.

Property involved in the acquisition consists of shallow water, marsh, floodplain and a small area of upland forest. Joining the state’s WMA will help with the conservation of wetlands, shore land and wildlife dependent on these habitats, said Jeanine Vorland, a DNR area wildlife manager who oversees the Ramsey Mill Pond WMA. Throughout Minnesota, WMAs are used for “dispersed, wildlife-based recreation,” such as birdwatching, hunting, trapping and fishing.

While the state doesn’t pay property taxes on WMA land, the state will make annual “payment in lieu of taxes” to Mower County equal to three-fourths of 1% of the property’s value, Vorland said.

Overall, Ramsey Mill Pond WMA would total nearly 418 acres after the acquisition. One of 14 WMAs in Mower County, the Ramsey WMA would remain the county’s second-largest WMA behind the 480-acre Cartney WMA, north of LeRoy.

For more information on the Minnesota DNR set to acquire Ramsey Mill Pond, CLICK HERE.