New wildlife management area created in Olmsted County

New wildlife management area created in Olmsted County

After a four-year process of a family farm being up for sale, a new wildlife management area has made it to southeast Minnesota.

(ABC 6 News)- After a four-year process of a family farm being up for sale, a new wildlife management area has made it to southeast Minnesota.

This family farm is now at the center of a 4-year-old, multi-million-dollar purchase thanks to its size and biodiversity.

Jen Busch is the realtor and broker who sold the farm; she shares that the family that sold it wanted to make sure it ended up in the right hands, “I asked the family and said what would you think about me asking the Nature Conservancy if they would be interested in purchasing the farm.”

The Nature Conservancy is an organization dedicated to improving biodiversity and protecting the environment. But there was a problem, the price tag of $2.7 million was too hefty for the Nature Conservancy alone. Then came the Trust for Public Land, an organization dedicated to making the outdoors easily accessible and protecting the environment.

Both organizations came together and purchased the property. Bob McGillivray is the Land Protection Director of Trust for Public Land, and he remembers how everything came to be, “They (Nature Conservancy) were short on funding, we had some funding, so we worked together to acquire the property.”

With the land secured, this chunk of land is now being donated to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Gretchen Miller, the DNR’s Central Regional Wildlife Manager, has high hopes for the coming years.
“In the next five years, what I’m hoping is that we will have introduced some folks in Rochester or the surrounding areas of Rochester to this type of a landscape that they weren’t necessarily familiar with,” said Miller.

Those in the community will be able to hunt, fish, and bird watch among many other activities.

At 420 acres, it is the biggest wildlife management area in town and only 15 minutes away from the concrete jungle of downtown Rochester.

Due to its size and proximity, McGillivray thinks this park will be a major addition, “Because it’s so close to Rochester, it really will provide opportunities for a lot of people.”

The area is dotted with trees and the Zumbro River snakes along the eastern and southern edges, and it has many in the DNR excited, including Miller, “The native vegetation that’s blooming right now in the spring, and it will be continuing throughout is a huge win to Minnesota really.”

Jen Busch knew this area had potential right away. “From the moment I stepped on this farm, there were so many things about it that made it diverse; just to see it become part of the public and part of the Minnesota DNR acquisition is kind of a big thing in my career,” said Busch.

The Minnesota DNR plans to add a parking lot to allow for easier access to the property and enjoy the wildlife management area for what it is. No trails are expected to be added but there is a plan to continue preservation projects to keep the area in as good of shape as possible.