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Spring Lake Islands Wildlife Management Area closer to reality

It's almost official - a new wildlife management area close to Hastings.

At its regular meeting last week, the Dakota County Board of Commissioners approved the execution of a joint powers agreement with the State of Minnesota for the establishment of a Spring Lake Islands Wildlife Management Area.

The islands and backwaters within the Spring Lake Park Reserve, west of Hastings in Nininger Township, comprise the wildlife management area. In 2003, the commissioners adopted the park's master plans, which allow hunting on the islands. The plan also recommended that the islands be owned and managed by a state or federal agency.

The Department of Natural Resources has been receptive to the idea and the Joint Powers Agreement was prepared to establish the wildlife management area based on an initial term of 30 years.

Under the JPA, 75 acres of county-owned property will be transferred to the State of Minnesota for designation as a wildlife management area. The county will reclassify 574 acres of tax forfeited lands for conservation purposes. Also, the DNR will provide general operation and maintenance of the wildlife management area.

The planned future tent camping and water trail will be managed by the county.

Spring Lake Park Reserve has 1,100 acres with activities such as archery, picnic areas, cross country ski trails, nature trails and boat launch. The Schaar's Bluff Gathering Center opened in 2008 and is available for parties and receptions.