The Minnesota Land Trust has protected 2,000 feet of shoreline along the Encampment River in Lake County. In addition to the river bank, the project also includes the permanent protection of 88 acres of forest and wildlife habitat.
"The Encampment River is a state-designated trout stream and like similar North Shore streams its ecology is fragile due to the thin soils that cradle it" said Fitz Fitzgerald, the Land Trust's regional conservation director. "It's important to keep the banks and surrounding soils undisturbed, otherwise we find ourselves in a situation where springtime run-off fills the river with sediment, ruining the spawning beds."
Protection of the 88-acre site was made possible through the use of a conservation easement granted by landowner Sarah Jaeger.
Her first visit to the property was memorable. "It was 25 below zero with three feet of snow on the ground when I first trekked around in snowshoes through this beautiful forest with the Encampment River flowing through it," she said. " I knew that the land and river needed protection to ensure that the natural beauty and health of the wilderness would remain forever."
Jaeger is active in managing the white pine on her property, resulting in regeneration. "I've lived on a corner of the land for six years and after checking out different land-protection options, I decided a conservation easement through the Minnesota Land Trust was the very best choice," Jaeger said.
"The Land Trust is wonderful to work with and the conservation easement allows me to continue living here, enjoying the land, knowing that I've done my best to care for it during my years here. Completing the easement gives me tremendous satisfaction and peace of mind."
From a historical perspective, the Encampment River is unique in that much of it escaped the intense logging of 100 years ago. "The biological integrity of the watershed and the scenic visibility afforded to travelers along the North Shore Scenic Drive, the Lake Superior Water Trail and the Superior Hiking Trail make its protection a high priority for the Minnesota Land Trust," Fitzgerald said.
Through its North Shore Protection Initiative, which receives funding from the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation, the Land Trust is working to identify and protect the most important conservation opportunities along the North Shore of Lake Superior.
The Jaeger property is adjacent to the Encampment Forest Association, which owns approximately 1,700 acres of outstanding old-growth forest, including 500 acres that are protected with a conservation easement as well.
The Jaeger property will remain in private ownership and the owner will still be responsible for managing the property and paying property taxes. In order to preserve the property's outstanding conservation benefits, certain uses of the property are restricted such as industrial or commercial uses, intense residential development, or inappropriate land management.
The Minnesota Land Trust is a non-profit conservation organization working to preserve the state's natural and scenic heritage through public and private partnerships. It is the state's only nationally-accredited land trust and operates statewide through regional offices in Duluth, Ely, Red Wing and St. Paul. More information can be found online at www.mnland.org.