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DNR hopes to acquire land adjacent to Vicksburg Park

Paddlers complete their river trip at the public landing in Vicksburg County Park across from the ''Big Eddy." It is one of the area's most popular fishing destinations. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has reached a purchase option agreement with private landowners that could expand shoreline fishing opportunities a short distance downstream of the Big Eddy. Tribune file photo

OLIVIA -- Recreational opportunities in the area of Vicksburg County Park on the Minnesota River could soon be expanded.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has reached a purchase agreement to acquire 293 acres of private land east of the 241-acre Renville County Park, according to information presented Tuesday to the Renville County Board of Commissioners.

DNR plans call for developing the land as both a wildlife management area and an aquatic management area, according to Lee Sundmark, fisheries supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Hutchinson, and Jeffry Zajac, assistant wildlife manager with the DNR in Redwood Falls.

The land to be acquired by the state adjoins the county park on its east side, and includes shoreline on the Minnesota River.

Sundmark told the Renville County commissioners that one of the goals is to expand opportunities for shoreline fishing on the Minnesota River. The river offers great fishing opportunities, but shoreline access is limited, he said.

Sundmark said the department believes that interest in shoreline fishing is going to grow. Regulations aimed at controlling aquatic invasive species will lead some anglers to spend more time fishing from shore than in boats, he explained.

Currently, the property to be acquired includes cropland, grass and woodlands along with the river shoreline. Zajac said the DNR will work to restore native prairie. It anticipates allowing cattle to graze a portion of the area to help manage it.

One issue related to the potential purchase is interest by the Green River Corridor, Tatanka Bluffs and trail riding associations to see that a horse and bicycle trail is offered in the area. The groups are working to expand recreational opportunities and develop a network of trails along the river.

The Renville County Board of Commissioners informally indicated they support the trail groups' goal of offering trail opportunities. It is not known if the county could object to the land sale if trails are not made part of the project.

Current state policy does not allow trails on wildlife management areas. Zajac said there have been cases where trails have been developed along roadways bordering wildlife management areas.

He is hopeful that some type of arrangement can be worked out here as well to allow for both trail activities and the traditional activities of wildlife management areas, including hunting.

Vicksburg County Park is located 10 miles south of Renville on County Road 6.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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