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New 322-acre tract of protected wetlands, public hunting coming to Otter Tail County

The Dora Township acreage will provide public land and recreational opportunities in an area that is otherwise dominated by private land. The property has been acquired from a private owner by Ducks Unlimited and will be transferred to the DNR.

This map shows the land that will make up the 322-acre protected wetland in Dora Township.
This map shows the land that will make up the 322-acre protected wetland in Dora Township.
Contributed / Ducks Unlimited

PERHAM – Dora Township will soon see 322 acres acquired by Ducks Unlimited for public use.

During an Otter Tail County Board meeting on Tuesday, April 12, the property was said to have about 75 acres of wetlands, 35 acres of trees, 200 acres that are tillable (but with sandy loam soil on hilly land) and an old farm building on site.

Jon Schneider, a wildlife biologist for Ducks Unlimited, said he was contacted this past winter by the attorney of a private landowner, Susan Schanus of Dent, who said Schanus wanted to sell her property for conservation purposes and to leave a legacy.

The estimated cost of the property, which includes three tracts of land, was $561,300.

Schneider informed the commissioners that Ducks Unlimited was purchasing the property “to restore and protect wetlands and oak savanna” and to provide a new public hunting area.

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“Opportunities for acquisition in the prairie/forest transition zone are rare,” read a document presented to county commissioners. “Therefore, this tract represents a unique opportunity to provide public land and recreational opportunities in an area that is otherwise dominated by private land.”

The parcel was also noted to be unique in size, as it is twice the size of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ minimum standard of 160 acres to be considered a Wildlife Management Area.

Schneider said the plan is to purchase the land this spring. Following the acquisition, the land may be donated to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources as soon as 2023. He said the donation date depends on how much time is needed to remove the old farm building and tend to other details, such as septic tank removal.

When it comes to taxes on the land, Schneider said when Duck Unlimited acquires the property, the taxes will be paid in full. In 2022 the taxes due were stated to be $2,372. Documents provided to the commission stated Ducks Unlimited would also pay 2023 taxes before donating the land.

After Ducks Unlimited donates the land to the DNR, Schneider explained that the DNR would make an annual ‘payment in lieu of taxes’ in future years. He estimated the amount to be $5,900. The amount was noted to be at least twice as much as the current county taxes for the parcels.

Funding to purchase the land was appropriated from the state’s Outdoor Heritage Fund. That requires Ducks Unlimited to transfer the land to the DNR, Schneider said.

There was no approval needed by the commissioners for the project to move forward.

Schneider previously spoke with Dora Township supervisors and said they had a “positive conversation” about the project.

Related Topics: OTTER TAIL COUNTYPERHAM
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