Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Anderson sells former WMA for $7.25 million

Field Editor

Bayport, Minn. A former wildlife management area that was given
up by the Minnesota DNR during the Gov. Arne Carlson era to make
room for a plant expansion at Anderson Window Company in Bayport
was recently sold to a developer for $7.25 million.

After protracted and controversial negotiations, in 1994 the
state Legislature authorized the sale of the wildlife lands to
Anderson for $1.3 million, the appraised value at the time. The
anticipated plant expansion did not occur. The over five-fold
increase in the recent sale price reflects the rise in property
values in the fast-growing St. Croix River Valley.

Kim Hennings, land acquisition coordinator for the DNR Division
of Wildlife, says in 1973 the agency was transferred three tracts
of land in the vicinity of Bayport from the state prison system.
Some of the land had once been farmed by prison inmates. Other
areas contained woods and prairie habitat. Although the DNR is very
protective of lands it acquires specifically for wildlife habitat,
he says in this situation the agency was given what he termed,
“custodial control” of the property. However, the lands were open
for public hunting, within local restrictions on the discharge of
firearms.

In 1977, 146 acres were transferred back to the prison system
for the site of the Oak Park Heights Prison. Another 47 acres were
given to the city of Bayport for a city park in 1984. And in 1990,
70 acres became the St. Croix Savannah Scientific and Natural
Area.

The 245-acre site sold to Anderson was first considered as a
location for a new high school, which was eventually sited
elsewhere. When Anderson expressed interest in the site, the
Carlson administration directed the DNR to work with the company on
a deal. The Administration and state Department of Trade and
Economic Development saw the expansion as an opportunity to
increase employment.

Although a land swap for similar wildlife habitat was originally
proposed, the final deal was for a legislatively approved sale at
the appraised value. The DNR used the money from the sale to
acquire about 380 acres of wildlife lands at various locations
within the metropolitan area. They were unable to find willing
sellers or affordable lands within Washington County, where Bayport
is located.

When the land was sold to Anderson, the deed included covenants
to permanently protect a seven-acre wetland, a 19-acre Indian
burial site, and part of a wooded bluff adjacent to the existing
Scientific and Natural Area. Henning said the southern third of the
property contained native prairie and oak savannah, but much of the
remained was brome grass fields and crop land. The protective
easements will remain in place if the property is developed with
homes.

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