Since she was a baby, Lynn Schwartz has spent summers at the family cabin on Wabedo Lake. Originally built by her dad in 1951, the cabin became a gathering place and a way for new family members to connect to the outdoors.
“My dad bought the land when they were newly married, before they even bought a home down in the Cities,” said Lynn. “He scrounged and used scrap lumber to put up the first cabin — just one room — he called it a hard-walled tent.”
Over time the family grew, as did the cabin. Though Fred and Joyce Schwartz didn’t have children when they bought the property, their intent was always to create a place for family to congregate. Every summer they would spend time at the cabin, enjoying the cool waters of Wabedo Lake and exploring the woods. Joyce recalls how she and her late husband walked the trails and appreciated the undeveloped space. As the years passed and the family expanded, siblings, in-laws, and new family members made the same annual trek up north.
“I grew up my whole life using that land; my kids grew up going there, and now my grandkids are growing up with it,” said Lynn. “It’s been many generations of sharing the space. There’s five of us in my generation, a dozen grandkids, and at least a dozen more great-grandkids. It’s become such a community thing for us.”
However, this property is more than just a family retreat. Protection of this property benefits the lake ecology. Reducing shoreline impacts and developments through a conservation easement minimizes erosion and sedimentation, keeping the water quality high for fish and all who rely on it. The deep, cool waters of Lake Wabedo ensure that tullibee fish — an important food source for game fish like walleye and lake trout — can survive and thrive.
“This property is not just important in and of itself, but also as part of a larger partnership push in the chain of lakes there,” said Ruurd Schoolderman, program manager at the Minnesota Land Trust. “By protecting the sensitive shoreline of their property, the Schwartz’s have helped contribute to not just the health of Wabedo Lake, but of the whole watershed.”
Kathy DonCarlos of the Northern Waters Land Trust agrees, “Our protection efforts are focused on tullibee, a preferred forage fish of walleye, northern pike, muskellunge and lake trout. They require cold, well-oxygenated waters, a condition most common in lakes with deep water and healthy watersheds. We greatly appreciate the Schwartz’s commitment to protect their property and contribute to efforts to secure a healthy and resilient lake and watershed into the future.”
When the Schwartz family approached the Minnesota Land Trust in late 2018 to explore a conservation easement on their land, their goal was to protect important natural features, as well as continue the legacy their late father had created.
“He was a hunter, and walked the land more than any of us kids ever did,” said Lynn. “Growing up as kids we were always getting out on the water, but he was really interested in the land. Doing this was to preserve it, and what he would have wanted done with it. This easement is in many ways a tribute to him.”
And now the land is protected forever.
“As the generations go on — we’re on the 4th generation at the lake — we liked the idea of making sure it’s going to stay pristine and protected even after we’re long gone. We never wanted to risk it being subdivided between our families; it’s best for it to stay whole as a community property. It’s the right thing for the environment, and for our family.”