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Rick

Scientific, aquatic management areas proposed for Itasca County

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Rick

GRAND RAPIDS MN - The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is seeking comments on proposals to establish several scientific and natural areas (SNAs) and aquatic management areas (AMAs) in Itasca County.

SNAs are a state land unit, like a state park or wildlife management area, but with a different emphasis. The purpose of SNAs is to protect the best of Minnesota’s remaining natural heritage, like rare species, native prairies, old-growth forests, landforms and geologic features. Probably the best known example in Itasca County is the Lost 40 SNA, which features one of the oldest pine forests in the state. Additional information on scientific and natural areas may be found at www.mndnr.gov/snas.

AMAs are a state land unit similar to wildlife management areas. The purpose of AMAs is to protect, develop and manage lakes, rivers and adjacent wetlands and lands that are critical for fish and other aquatic life.

The DNR has an opportunity to establish these areas through the generous donation of the landowner. The areas proposed, location and a brief description follow:

Big Too Much Lake SNA (Lot 2 and part of Lot 6 in SW/NE Section 12 of T148N R25W). This parcel is on the northeast side of Big Too Much Lake and includes about one-quarter mile of lakeshore. It will protect 86 acres, mostly a mix of old northern hardwood, ash and spruce forest representative of this landscape.

Big Too Much Lake AMA (part of Lot 2 in Section 13 of T148N R 25W). This parcel is a one-half acre lot with approximately 139 feet of lakeshore and a dense bulrush bed in the near-shore area.

Little Too Much Lake SNA (Lot 1 in Section 24 of T148N R25W, and Lot 2 in Section 4 of T59N R27W). This 57-acre tract, on the north side of Little Too Much Lake, includes about 2,600 feet of shoreline. It will protect old-growth Aspen-Birch-Red Maple forest and Sugar Maple-Basswood forest.

Potato Lake SNA (Lot 2 and 3 in Section 7 of T62N R23W). This 84-acre site includes about 250 feet of lakeshore on the east end of Potato Lake. It offers a rare opportunity to protect a relatively large patch of old Red Pine-White Pine Woodland without recent disturbance.

Eagle Lake AMA (Lot 5 (SW/SW) in Section 5 of T59N R25W). This parcel, located on the north side of Eagle Lake, covers approximately 34 acres and includes about 1,000 feet of lakeshore. The area provides valuable bulrush habitat, riparian wetlands and an undisturbed forest including large cedars.

Horseshoe Lake AMA (Lot 9 (SW/SW) in Section 10 of T59N R25W). This parcel, on the west side of Horseshoe Lake, covers approximately 26 acres and includes more than 2,400 feet of shoreline. The property is on a high bluff with densely forested shoreline that provides valuable aquatic habitat.

SNAs are open to the public for nature observation, education, scientific research and other non-motorized recreation. In addition, the DNR is proposing that the SNAs be open to fishing, hunting, and dogs under control.

The AMAs will be open to fishing, nature observation, education, scientific research, dogs under control and other non-motorized recreation. Hunting and trapping will be allowed except on Big Too Much Lake AMA, which is too small and too close to residences to support these activities. Consistent with these intended uses and protection of the sites’ natural features, some activities will not be allowed on either SNAs or AMAs, including camping, campfires, motorized vehicles, damaging vegetation, and on SNAs only, trapping.

The DNR is seeking comments from the public on the establishment of these areas as SNAs or AMAs. If established, an individual management plan will be developed for each area. The public is encouraged to provide comments that will help guide the future management of these areas. Comments will be shared with the Itasca County Board when they are briefed on these proposals at a future meeting.

Comments about the proposed SNAs may be sent to Steve Wilson, DNR SNA Program, 650 Highway 169, Tower, MN, 55790, or email steve.wilson@state.mn.us. Comments on the AMAs may be sent to Chris Kavanaugh, DNR area fisheries supervisor, 1201 East Highway 2, Grand Rapids, MN 55744, or email chris.kavanaugh@state.mn.us. The deadline for submitting comments is Aug. 28.

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