Otter Tail County is thriving, and with that increased population has come expanded development — some of which has begun to affect previously natural lands and waters. Fortunately, conservation-minded individuals in the area have stepped up to protect the resources we all rely on. Recently Theresa and Bob Harris worked with the Minnesota Land Trust to preserve in perpetuity their exceptional property in Otter Tail County.
Mineral Lake is unique in Minnesota’s history, being one of the earliest identified “salt springs” in the state, first recorded in 1857. However, since that discovery, land use and hydrological changes have meant that the lake has lost much of its historic salinity. As development near the lake increases, so does the importance of keeping the lake’s shoreline in its natural state.
“I reflect on where our house is built and know that not long ago the land was part of a larger tract of natural landscape before it was subdivided into lots,” says Bob. “I’m glad we’ve taken the step with Minnesota Land Trust to prevent that same thing from happening to our land on Mineral Lake.”
The Harris’ have worked to improve the property, not just for their own enjoyment, but also as habitat for numerous mammals, songbirds, and waterfowl. Long term, they hope to continue to restore areas of oak savanna, an ecosystem that has nearly disappeared from Minnesota.
“We’re starting to see a large complex of protected land emerge in the region — just in a small radius from this property there are three US Fish and Wildlife Service Waterfowl Protection Areas, a state Wildlife Management Area, and three other private properties protected by the Minnesota Land Trust,” says Kristina Geiger, program manager for the Minnesota Land Trust. “By protecting this property with the Land Trust, the owners are not just protecting it for future generations, but the Harris’ are actively bringing back habitat and ecosystems that have been lost. It truly is a win-win for everyone in our state.”