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Glendalough State Park looking at expansion

EXPANDING HORIZONS: Glendalough State Park in Battle Lake is looking into expanding after 140 acres northwest of the state park has been put up for sale by a nearby landowner | Daily Journal

State parks offer many recreational and outdoor activities for visitors all across the United States. Glendalough State Park in Battle Lake offers hiking and biking trails, wildlife observation areas, camping, fishing and many other opportunities for those looking to spend some time in the great outdoors. Now, there is a possibility that these opportunities could be developed even further.

Glendalough State Park officials in Battle Lake are looking at the possibility of expanding the park after a nearby landowner said that they are willing to sell their land to the park. The 140 acres northwest of the state park in the discussion could have many uses. Chuck Carpenter, Department of Natural Resources District 1 supervisor — which includes Glendalough State Park — said, "We took a look and found that the property could be a real value to the park." Carpenter added that is too early to decide on what the land would be used for. "The property is adjacent to the current boundary. It has real compatibility. There's a few possibilities that need to be discussed."

Carpenter said that while there is no official agreement with the landowners yet, they are working on getting some of the first steps complete to make the expansion happen. The first step will be to get the Minnesota state legislature to extend the park's statutory boundaries. "I don't expect it to be too difficult but I do expect it to be time-consuming," Carpenter said. "We have some good state park supporters in the legislature. I just think it's going to take some time." The second step would then be to work on making the purchase between the park and the landowners.

In regards to how long the whole process of expansion would take, Carpenter said, "Step by step." He said that the goal is to get the park boundaries expanded by the middle of 2019. At that point, funding would need to be secured and negotiations would begin. The best case scenario would be two to three years.

Addressing the potential concern of loss of tax money as the park looks to bring the 140 acres of private land into state ownership, Carpenter brought up the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program. According to the DNR's website, "The Legislature created this local government aid program to compensate counties and other local government units for the loss of tax base from state ownership of land." This program would apply if the land was purchased by the park. "It does go into state hands," Carpenter said. "The county is still compensating in this case at a very fair rate for yearly taxes."

While there are still many steps that need to be taken, Glendalough State Park officials are looking to find uses for the land that will benefit many. "We are trying to honor landowner wishes," Carpenter said. "We are trying to honor the neighboring community and we are trying to make these state parks serve all of these communities and the whole state."