Public lands expand near the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center


On Tuesday, May 11, the Otter Tail County Commission approved the sale of 42.65 acres to the US Fish & Wildlife Service. The plot will connect the learning center to the 338-acre Tungseth waterfowl production area with public access.

The land is temporarily held by the Fergus Falls Fish and Game Club, pending its sale to the federal government. It was the desire of the previous owners, the Johnson family, for the land to belong to the learning center, Fish & Game’s Neil Powers told the Commissioners.

“The possibility for a private entity to acquire this property and engage in a commercial enterprise that undermines or negatively affects the programming of the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center is a real possibility,” according to documents he presented to the council. .

“At present, this plot, because it is landlocked, does not offer opportunities, for example, for public hunting and limited public recreation, because it is a big enough jump to get there” , Powers said.

The Fish & Wildlife department will eventually remove buildings from the property and restore the land with native plants. It is expected to provide habitat for insects and animals and to be accessible to children as well as people with disabilities.

In Minnesota, county commissions must authorize the sale of land to the federal government, under a 1962 agreement between the Minnesota Department of National Defense and Fish & Wildlife. The transfer removes the land from the county’s property tax roll, or nearly $ 2,000 per year. To compensate for this, the federal government will pay Otter Tail County a one-time payment of $ 21,000.

The council also approved the granting of two conservation leases in Otter Tail County to US Fish & Wildlife. Lea and Shana Barry, of Richville, sold a conservation easement on 166 acres to the agency, as did the Robert Farm Trust in Dead Lake and Amor Townships, on 216 acres. The two easements allow grazing all year round and hay cutting after July 15.

Bridge work will begin in June

The bridge near Perham over the Otter Tail River on County Road 8 will be replaced starting in June, according to County Engineer Charles Grotte’s report to Commissioners.

The project appears ready to start on June 13 and is expected to be completed on August 13, he said. The county is looking for alternative routes.

More work for the coastal ordinance

Is a building a dwelling if it does not have a kitchen? Is a room a kitchen if it has a microwave but no refrigerator? What if there is a refrigerator but no stove?

These are the thorny questions Commissioners answered on Tuesday as they considered a new shoreline ordinance and how to make sure the lake grounds aren’t crowded with vacation rentals. State law allows only one housing per lot, and county officials are already seeing landlords circumventing local rules by building housing on their land – especially above garages – claiming that it is not an accommodation because it lacks a kitchen or a bedroom.

After all, if the county declares that a dwelling means it must have a bedroom, all a landlord has to do is place bunks against a wall in an open structure and say it doesn’t. is not a bedroom.

The commission tasked lawyer Michelle Eldien and land and resources director Chris LeClair to figure out how to draft the order to avoid loopholes.

Vacation rental homes were a major concern in a public hearing on May 10 over the proposed new ordinance, which incorporates parts of the old ordinance and tightens up some areas and relaxes others. The county plans to hold at least one workshop on the ordinance before formally voting on whether to pass it.

Tray standards are also a major concern, LeClair told commissioners.

County Road 6 to close

Commissioners talked about doing something quickly with County Road 6 near Parkers Prairie, where a driver recently pulled off the road towards Nelson Lake.

The lake has risen so high that it sometimes covers the road, and the county has added gravel in the lower area as a temporary solution. But it can be a shocking experience for motorists, as most of the road is asphalt.

“I don’t want anyone else to take the plunge. One is enough, ”said Commissioner Wayne Johnson. “We have to close this road.”

The commission considered taking emergency measures on the road. Members met with Emergency Director Patrick Waletzko after the meeting at a committee hearing. The recording of that hearing is not available to the public until the next day, but public information officer Shannon Terry said at 5:15 p.m. on Tuesday that the plan was to close the road.

Commissioners have yet to decide what to do with the flooding. They are currently considering building a ditch to drain Nelson Lake and lower the level of the lake, but area residents are not so sure they want that to happen.

In another action:

  • The county has granted a 30-day wake-free zone on Twin Lake near Parkers Prairie where water levels have been high.
  • Commissioners narrowly voted to comply with the state’s request for a $ 50,000 deposit to ensure county work on the Perham-to-Pelican Rapids Trail ends properly in the right-of-way of the ‘State. The request angered President Lee Rogness. “I thought they were partners with us,” he said. Grotte said the $ 50,000 was refundable and the MNDOT was asking for deposits statewide.

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