The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has expressed a preliminary interest in potentially acquiring a large parcel of Detroit Lakes land adjacent to Frank State Wildlife Management Area, according to a local MN DNR official.

The nearly 200-acre parcel of low-lying land would expand the nearby wildlife management area, which is under strict regulations due to the Rice Lake restoration project. Discussions with the city are in the earliest stages, said Rob Baden, MN DNR wildlife manager in Detroit Lakes.

Map of the parcel to potentially be sold to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources from the city of Detroit Lakes. (Development Authority packet)
Map of the parcel to potentially be sold to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources from the city of Detroit Lakes. (Development Authority packet)

"It's just some very preliminary, initial discussion, that's it," said Baden. "Nothing has been set in stone, it's really, really preliminary."

Baden said there is a current restoration project for the Rice Lake area, in partnership with the Pelican River Watershed District, to restore the wetlands and create some flood reduction, so this parcel would add to the protection of that area and be available for public use.

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"You can't really develop that land," he said. "It'd be a good thing for the public."

The area, which also runs along the Pelican River, is good for hiking, hunting and bird watching, said Baden. There would also need to be a discussion about having potential hunting grounds within the city limits.

"The wildlife management area is hunting and game production and wildlife production … and then outdoor recreation also," he said. "No formal trails, or anything like that, we're not like a state park where we're going to put in pavilions or bathrooms."

Baden doesn't know if the purchase would be for the whole parcel, or if a smaller parcel would be more feasible. However, city officials must decide if they even want to sell the land in the first place.

The city's Development Authority will discuss the issue at their next meeting on Oct. 5 at 4 p.m. at the city administration building.

Larry Remmen, community development director for Detroit Lakes, said the city acquired the large parcel when they initially developed the North Industrial Park.

"The land that we left was low land along the river," said Remmen. "A lot of it is wetland and now a lot of it is covered by the flowage easement for the Rice Lake project."

He also said there are a few areas of higher ground where you can find deer and other wildlife, but the parcel in question isn't being used for anything currently.

"It doesn't have any value for us, but certainly might have some value for the DNR to have that," said Remmen. "We'll see what happens."