DNR partners to purchase additional shoreline on Leech Lake for habitat conservation

Featured photo: Photo credit to MN DNR. A muskie caught in a net in Miller’s Bay. Miller’s Bay is recognized as a critical muskie habitat.

The Minnesota DNR is working with partners to add critical shoreline habitat on Leech Lake.

According to a release, Northern Waters Land Trust, Leech Lake Association and the Hugh C. Becker Foundation recently partnered to purchase 5.25 acres with 1,300 feet of undeveloped shoreline as an addition to the existing Miller’s Bay Aquatic Management Area in Miller Bay on Leech Lake.

The acquisition includes two separate purchases by the DNR and NWLT of four contiguous parcels that protect important fish and wildlife habitats.

“The undeveloped shoreline includes riparian and submerged vegetation and wild rice that support critical muskellunge spawning and nursery habitat,” said Doug Schultz, DNR Walker area fisheries supervisor. “The purchase includes an upland portion comprised of an old-growth hardwood forest important for its ecological, scientific, educational and aesthetic values.”

The purchase was finalized in April with $125,000 in funding from Reinvest in Minnesota Critical Habitat Match Program. This uses money from the conservation license plate program which matches cash or land donation values.

NWLT received a $283,000 grant from the Outdoor Heritage Fund two years ago to purchase the two parcels and transferred ownership to the DNR for management.

“Protecting habitat on Leech Lake and in Miller’s Bay has been a priority for our organization since 2012,” NWLT Board Chair Bob Karls said. “We are privileged to work with landowners and partners who value the importance of preserving land to protect the habitat and quality of Leech Lake.”

The Leech Lake Association strongly supported the acquisition and contributed $10,000 towards its completion. An additional $3,500 in private donations and an $18,000 grant from the Hugh C. Becker Foundation also helped make the land purchase possible.

“It’s exciting and gratifying to see critical habitat like this protected,” said Jennifer O’Neil with the Leech Lake Association. “We are pleased to partner with the DNR and NWLT on such a significant conservation project.

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