associated Press, Published May 28 2013
Slice of 1800s Minnesota donated in Freeborn Co.BLOOMING PRAIRIE, Minn. — A Minneapolis attorney has given the Department of Natural Resources one of its largest donations ever — 549 acres of wetlands, prairie and woods in Freeborn County.
The Rochester Post-Bulletin reports that the land sits in the midst of farmland between Blooming Prairie and Austin.
John Goetz is the attorney who donated the land, which is valued at more than $664,000. He bought it in the mid-1990s as a place for recreation and rental.
"I just love nature and I also sort of have a longing to know what this country was like before it was settled," he said.
Besides typical mallards and red-winged blackbirds, the land has rare trumpeter swans and cranes as well as bald eagles.
His plans were to rent it out, but he soon found he wanted to turn it into wildlife habitat that is relatively rare in that part of the state.
With the help of state and federal land managers, he first plugged up drain tiles so about 100 acres of wetlands in the complex would stay wet. He put some in the Conservation Reserve Program, which pays landowners to not farm land for 10 years, and then into permanent Wetlands Reserve Program.
And now, he has taken the next step, donating the land, valued at $664,000, to the state for a wildlife management area that will be open to the public for hunting, hiking, birding and other forms of recreation. "I want the state to have it and take care of it and make it available to the public," he said.
Goetz chose the name: the Wo Wacintanka WMA, using a Dakota word meaning "to persist in spite of difficulties."
It will be dedicated Saturday along Freeborn County Road 35 about five miles west of Minnesota Highway 218.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.