Fish and Wildlife Service purchases 120 acres

Published 9:47 pm Wednesday, July 18, 2018

92 acres of land is near Twin Lake


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is buying nearly 120 acres in Freeborn County it hopes will enhance wildlife habitat.

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The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday gave its blessing to agreements between the federal agency and Freeborn County landowners Virgil Schewe and Arlow Rugland. The agency is buying 92 acres of land from Schewe for $548,000 for property near Twin Lake on the south side of Freeborn County Road 80. The approximately $157,000 agreement with Rugland covers 26.2 acres in Freeman Township south of Goose Creek.

Sales of the properties are expected to be complete this fall.

Todd Luke, Fish and Wildlife Service district manager for Windom Wetland Management District, said the public supports such acquisitions.

“The public has definitely expressed a desire to have more outdoor recreational activities,” he said. “In general, there is a lack of public lands in southern Minnesota, so we’re strongly supported by the public to acquire lands that enhance wildlife habitat.”

Luke said acquiring the properties helps the agency meet its goal to increase waterfowl populations by acquiring restorable wetlands and restoring uplands by providing nesting space. He said restoring wetlands also benefits pheasants and deer and water quality efforts.

Fish and Wildlife Service supervisory realty specialist Stacy Salevold said purchasing the land allows the agency to follow through with its promises.

“As we sell the federal duck stamp, we promise to turn that money around and turn it into habitat,” she said. “It’s one of the most efficient programs in the federal government.”

Luke said by reducing flooding and improving water quality, “it is feeding the lake, so by restoring wetlands and uplands, reducing flooding, improving water quality… that’s a tremendous public benefit and concern right now.” 

After the meeting, Schewe said the sale price seemed like a fair price to me.”

“It just kind of fits in with my budget,” he said.

In other action, commissioners:

Set sale prices on tax forfeiture parcels for the 2018 sale.

Placed Auditor/Treasurer Department employee Kelly Hendrickson on full-time status.

Placed Public Health Department employee Kimberly Wangsness on intermittent part-time status.

Accepted the resignations of Karen Nielsen and Denise Olsen, effective Aug. 31. The two plan to retire. Commissioners approved filling the positions.

Adopted the 2019 budget calendar. The preliminary budget is expected to be set Sept. 18. The adoption of the final budget will be Dec. 18.

Set a workshop for 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Freeborn County Government Center.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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