Lake County land sale raises concernsJuly 24 – the date that a 65.25 acre parcel of land is being auctioned – is the date that two St. Paul residents and frequent visitors to the North Shore, Norbert and Heather Johnson, are dreading.
By: Chaviely Dellinger, Lake County News Chronicle
July 24 – the date that a 65.25 acre parcel of land is being auctioned – is the date that two St. Paul residents and frequent visitors to the North
Shore, Norbert and Heather Johnson, are dreading.
According to the DNR’s online information the parcel, approximately 10 miles north of Silver Bay, has about 1,675 feet of Lake Superior shoreline and can be used for recreation or development. The Johnsons say they are concerned that the land they, and others, have enjoyed for its wild beauty is in danger of disappearing forever.
“For quite a number of years, our family has vacationed on the shore,” said Norbert Johnson. “Our activity has been along the shoreline enjoying the rocks. We’re not local residents. We spend a lot of time enjoying the beauty of the North Shore. But we’re visitors,” he added.
“Our concern is that privately owned property won’t be accessible to the public. Our understanding is that the land will be sold in the interest of the state. Nobody was asked to review it in the interests of public view,” said Norbert Johnson, also pointing out that the North Shore draws thousands of tourists each year, especially during the summer months.
The couple stressed that their two primary concerns amounted to the area’s geological significance and the lack of public hearings to gather input on the land’s sale.
“There’s been no development of this (land). This is the only thing that’s not privately owned,” Norbert Johnson said.
Heather Johnson, an amateur geologist said that the parcel’s rock formations and wooded areas merit consideration and preservation.
“I’m very interested in the historical formation of these rocks,” she remarked. “(It) would make a beautiful state park, by the way.”
“It’s geologically far more interesting than places like Grand Marais or Sugarloaf,” Norbert Johnson said, adding that the parcel is “ loaded with lichens and fauna.”
Sugarloaf Cove is a publicly accessible area complete with trails approximately eight miles north of the parcel the Johnsons want to preserve. Norbert Johnson said he’d like to see the parcel purchased by an organization and kept for public use, like Sugarloaf, but with the sale so soon at hand, he is doubtful and the DNR confirmed its intent to sell, saying that proceeds are intended to benefit school districts and students.
“This parcel is what’s called trust land,” verified Kate Giel, a program coordinator for the DNR. “The DNR is the administrator of all 2.5 million acres of trust land.” She explained that the land is held by the DNR in trust for various purposes, and when the land is sold, gains from that land are turned over to support those needs.
“The beneficiaries of this trust land, in essence, are the three million school students we have in the state,” Aaron VandeLinde, School Trust Administrator of the DNR, said. “The way it funnels back to the school children is handled by the Department of Education. The way it gets back to the school districts is a per-pupil basis.”
The Johnsons say they are interested in hearing from others who share their concerns about the parcel. Their email address is email@example.com. More information about the parcel, its location and the upcoming sale can be found at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/lands_minerals/landsale/index.html