State Buys Xcel Land for Natural Area

V1 Staff

Nearly 1,000 acres along the lower Chippewa River will be preserved for future generations after being purchased by the state Department of Natural Resources from Xcel Energy. Xcel’s predecessor, Northern States Power, originally obtained the property in the 1970s as the potential site of a nuclear power plant, which was never built. The DNR board voted Aug. 3 to buy the 990-acre parcel from Xcel for about $2.1 million. The land, which is in rural Dunn County about seven miles northeast of Durand, includes about 18,000 feet of shoreline along the river’s south bank. The property will become part of the Lower Chippewa River State Natural Area, and it is intersected by the Chippewa River State Trail. According to the DNR, “The property consists of dry prairie, restored oak savanna, upland brush, floodplain forest, red pine plantations, agricultural land, and a 10-acre oxbow lake.” The DNR already holds a lease on the property, and it includes a picnic shelter and a canoe landing as well as parking areas on the town roads leading to the property. Among other things, the DNR expects to allow use of the land for recreation, including birdwatching (it’s home to many notable species), hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, hunting, trapping, and fishing.