Eighty acres of Great River Energy-owned property was recently placed in a conservation easement with the help of the Minnesota Land Trust. The area—adjacent to Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area (WMA)—creates a natural, continuous habitat for numerous bird species, including red-shouldered hawks, sandhill cranes and red-headed woodpeckers.
“The importance of this property cannot be understated,” said Kristina Geiger, program manager for the Minnesota Land Trust. “Thanks to the generous donation by Great River Energy, we are now able to protect both this unique wildlife habitat and downstream water quality, while at the same time adding benefits to the wonderful public asset we all share in Carlos Avery WMA.”
In an area of outstanding biodiversity and great importance to local wildlife, the property has maintained its natural character despite its proximity to the Twin Cities metro. The land helps extend protected bird habitat in this Audubon-identified Important Bird Area.
“At Great River Energy, we are deeply committed to sustainability through solid environmental policies and practices,” said Rick Heuring, senior field representative at Great River Energy. “Working with the Minnesota Land Trust to permanently protect these 80 acres of habitat adjacent to the Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area demonstrates our commitment to take both big and small initiatives and create a more sustainable environment for future generations.”
Protecting this private land has many public benefits in addition to the preservation of wildlife habitat. Located in the St. Croix River watershed, the wetlands on the property clean and protect the quality of the water which eventually enters both the Sunrise and St. Croix rivers.
“We’ve had this property since the 1980s, and we were looking for opportunities to ensure the property remains in its natural condition while providing excellent wildlife habitat for future generations to appreciate,” Heuring said. “When Minnesota Land Trust approached us, we concluded that placing the land into a conservation easement was an ideal solution. As an electric cooperative that serves 28 member-owner electric cooperatives across the state of Minnesota, we make all business decisions with an eye to our triple bottom line – rates, electric reliability and environmental stewardship.”
This project was made possible through the partnership of Great River Energy’s member-owner cooperative members, the Minnesota Land Trust and the Outdoor Heritage Fund, which contributed funds appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature and recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.