Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, March 20, 2000

Concern expressed over LP nature area

By Luis Puga

Lester Prairie City Council heard some concerns expressed by citizens over a proposed nature area at last Monday's regular meeting.

The council used a portion of that meeting to hold a public hearing on the matter. Part of the evening was dedicated to informing those in attendance as to what the city planned for the purchase of the Irense Schmidt estate property. Citizens also had an opportunity to ask questions.

One landowner, who abuts the approximately 50-acre site of the proposed nature area, was concerned about trespassing onto his property.

The landowner also expressed concern since he uses his property to graze cattle.

Council Member Galen Hochstein said that while he could not answer that concern, he would look into other nature reserves who have similar issues.

Some concern was also expressed over future costs for the nature area. Currently, the city will only purchase the land if it can obtain a grant from the DNR.

The DNR has two grants which could apply to the purchase of the land, but both require an appraisal of the land. Each grant will then cover half of the appraised cost.

On that basis, Hochstein said he can't be sure of future costs in developing the land, since part of the cost will depend on the appraisal.

Also, plans for paths through the area have not been determined at this time, so those costs are also not available.

Hochstein also assured residents that other projects, such as the walking path along McLeod County Rd. 1, were still areas the city was looking into for future projects.

Also on hand for the meeting was Dr. William Bernstein, a botanist from the University of Minnesota. Bernstein had taken a tour of the property which the city is considering for purchase prior to the meeting.

Bernstein reported that he had seen a number of different types of endangered vegetation, including Prairie Core Grass, Indian Grass, and Twisted Yellow Eye Grass.

These grasses are no longer as common to Minnesota due to development and agriculture. Bernstein said these grasses can only now be found in untilled land, and, even then, other grasses have a tendency to kill the endangered vegetation.

Bernstein also said he saw an eagle's nest among the trees and added that he would like to return in the spring to do another examination of the site in the spring.

The council passed a motion, contingent upon receiving a grant from the DNR, to purchase the land at a cost of $1,200 per acre.

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