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60-acre peninsula designated for wildlife

Approximately half of a 60-acre peninsula linking Lower Bottle and Lake Emma has now been designated an Aquatic Management Area (AMA). Visitors will soon be welcomed for wildlife observation, hiking, shore fishing and berry picking on the 35- acr...

Approximately half of a 60-acre peninsula linking Lower Bottle and Lake Emma has now been designated an Aquatic Management Area (AMA).

Visitors will soon be welcomed for wildlife observation, hiking, shore fishing and berry picking on the 35- acre site.

The area, located on the west end of Hermit Lane in Lake Emma Township, contains about 3,000 feet of shoreline.

This was a joint project between the Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Doug Kingsley of the DNR Fisheries explained. Landowners Dan and Mary Schneeman sold and/or donated the property to the TPL, which acted as the "middleman" in the transaction, Kingsley said, including obtaining grants for the cost of acquisition.

The property is a haven for wildlife.

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The peninsula is home to bald eagles, which have constructed nests on the site.

Trumpeter swans are resident on Lower Bottle Lake, and the emergent marsh on the west and south sides of the peninsula provides nesting habitat.

Bears den in the area. Loons nest nearby. Deer, otter, beaver, fisher and other furbearers call the area home. A variety of songbirds serenade and ruffed grouse have taken up residence.

Waterfowl nest in the area and use it as a migratory stopover.

The AMA designation also protects critical fisheries habitat.

Upper and Lower Bottle lakes and Lake Emma are managed primarily for walleye, but also support good populations of northern pike, black crappie, yellow perch, largemouth bass, bluegill and a variety of non-game fish.

"The 3,000 feet of shoreline provide important habitat for spawning, nursery, feeding, resting and cover for these fish," Kingsley said.

Recent DNR studies have found that as shoreland areas are developed, fish habitat decreases and water quality is negatively impacted.

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The acquisition of the property will also protect high quality native plant communities, Kingsley said.

Birch and white pine shade the north and east sides of the peninsula.

In the low area in the center of the peninsula, wet forest is dominated by black ash with tamarack and bur oak.

On the west and south sides, alder swamp grades into emergent marsh dominated by cattails, bulrush, wild rice and iris.

Signs will be posted for parking. The existing paths and trails will likely be augmented with a few more. No motorized vehicles will be allowed on the site.

The acquired property is one of 10 AMAs in Hubbard County, now totaling more than 400 acres. The county is home to "considerably more" wildlife management areas (WMA), Kingsley said.

An AMA acquired near Stony Lake is a northern pike spawning area, for example. Two near Straight River protect critical habitat, allowing angler access. Another on Bender Creek near Third Crow Wing Lake supplements a WMA.

"Each is unique," Kingsley said.

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The county board formally approved the land acquisition resolution at the last meeting.

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