[Press Release]

Partnership Protects Bad Axe Lake, Northern Minnesota Fisheries

The Minnesota Land Trust and Boys Scouts of America permanently protect over 200 acres of Camp Wilderness and 3,600 feet of natural shoreline on Bad Axe Lake in northern Minnesota
Canoeing on Bad Axe Lake | Photo: Northern Lights Council, BSA

SAINT PAUL, Minn, April 26, 2023 — Together, the Minnesota Land Trust and the Northern Lights Council of the Boy Scouts of America have permanently protected a portion of Boy Scout Camp Wilderness, including over 3,600 feet of natural shoreline on Bad Axe Lake and 219 acres of land and water near Park Rapids, Minnesota.  

Conserving this important landscape preserves high-quality habitat that supports a diverse population of plant and animal species including the ecologically critical tullibee (aka “cisco”) in Bad Axe Lake and downstream Tullibee Refuge Lakes. 

Permanently protecting this portion of Camp Wilderness, situated on the shores of Bad Axe Lake, also ensures that immersive nature adventures remain accessible to youth for years to come, critical in a region of Minnesota that is losing more of its undeveloped and sensitive shorelands to the construction of vacation homes. Read the full press release.

Ruurd Schoolderman, Land Trust Conservation Program Manager; Richard McCartney, Northern Lights Council, BSA Scout Executive; Amy Schwarz, Staff Attorney

What Happened

  • Over 3,600 feet of natural shoreline on Bad Axe Lake has been permanently protected through a conservation easement. This is a lake of Outstanding Biological Significance that provides habitat for many of Minnesota’s large gamefish species. 
  • 219 acres of land and water were protected within Paul Bunyan State Forest, helping ensure contiguous habitat remains intact to support wildlife. 
  • Camp Wilderness has been in operation since 1946 as an important resource enabling the Northern Lights Council, BSA to deliver vibrant outdoor programs that are critical to the Scouting experience. The camp is nationally recognized and fully accredited by the Boy Scouts of America.
  • The conservation easement ensures that immersive nature adventures remain accessible to youth for years to come, critical in a region of Minnesota that is losing more of its undeveloped and sensitive shorelands to the construction of vacation homes.  
  • To date, the Minnesota Land Trust has helped legally and permanently protect 37 camps, nature centers and environmental learning centers (ELCs) across Minnesota, preserving 4,856 acres of natural land and over 37 miles of undeveloped shoreline.

Key Quotes

Richard McCartney, Northern Lights Council, BSA Scout Executive

“Environmental conservation has always been a part of the Scouting Program; it’s embedded in the Scout Oath and Law and codified in the Outdoor Code. We feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to demonstrate this value by protecting Camp Wilderness, an important resource the Council has used to teach outdoor ethics for over 75 years. Our partnership with the Minnesota Land Trust ensures that this space will be protected in perpetuity.”

Crystal Mathisrud, Hubbard County SWCD District Manager

“We are grateful to have the Boy Scouts of America and Minnesota Land Trust as committed long-term partners in the ongoing management of these high-quality forests that enhance and protect our high-quality Mantrap Chain of Lakes. Protecting Camp Wilderness and Bad Axe Lake, which is the headwaters of the Mantrap Chain of Lakes, is an important accomplishment that will ensure The Boy Scouts of America leave a visible local legacy of conservation.”

Ruurd Schoolderman, Minnesota Land Trust Conservation Program Manager

“Protecting at least seventy-five percent of the surrounding lands that direct water into Big Sand Lake ensures that the water will remain clean and cold enough for tullibee to survive even in a warming climate.”

Read the full press release.

Image Gallery

This conservation easement was made possible by the members of the Minnesota Land Trust and with funding from Minnesota’s Outdoor Heritage Fund, as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature and recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (LSOHC).


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