The Nature Conservancy announced today that it has donated 69 acres of property along Egg Lake to Cass County. Combined with land already owned by the county, more than three quarters of the lake’s shoreline is now preserved.
The Cass County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously late last year to accept the land, which is located near the town of Outing in the southeastern corner of Cass County. The township also voted in favor of the county accepting the donation.
The property, which was recently transferred to Cass County,includes a mature black spruce bog that is considered in excellent condition, a regenerating aspen forest and stands of half-century old red pine trees, all of which provide wildlife habitat.
The Conservancy ranked Egg Lake as a priority in its Lake Classification Portfolio, which is a comprehensive ecologically-based lake classification system to guide conservation of all the different types of lakes in Minnesota.
As a result of the Conservancy’s gift to Cass County, an additional 1,446 feet of shoreline along Egg Lake has been protected, which will help preserve the lake’s high water quality.
The Conservancy was able to give the land to Cass County thanks to a donor, who wanted to remain anonymous, who donated the property to the Conservancy.
Cass County is now able to provide more public access to Egg Lake for outdoor recreation including fishing, berry picking and hunting for deer, grouse and ducks.
“The county could not have acquired this property except as a gift – we do not have the resources,” said Cass County Land Commissioner Josh Stevenson.
“The property on Egg Lake is a welcome addition to our land base,” Stevenson added. “Public lands in Cass County are under more pressure than ever because use is increasing and this gift will help meet the recreational needs of our residents.”
Cass County is required to manage the property under Forest Stewardship Council guidelines, which allow sustainable timber harvesting while also ensuring that the lake’s water quality will not be jeopardized.
The county already observes these guidelines through its SmartWood Program, which requires that forest cover be maintained to provide seed for the forest’s future and to prevent runoff and erosion.
“It’s management for the long term — for both the forest and the lake,” Stevenson said.
Todd Holman, director of The Nature Conservancy’s work in central Minnesota, said that Egg Lake’s future is secure thanks to a generous gift to the Conservancy and to Cass County officials who seized upon this opportunity to protect more of the lake and to provide increased public access.
“The outcome could not have been any better,” Holman said. “This property links to land that’s already protected and managed by Cass County. We now have a significant percentage of the lake that’s not going to be developed, and that’s key to the lake’s long-term viability.”
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
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