Gov. Dayton dedicates recently acquired public hunting land near Madelia

Gov. Mark Dayton helped dedicate recently acquired public hunting land during Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener activities on Oct. 12, west of Madelia.

The Younger Brothers Wildlife Management Area (WMA) was created as a result of land acquisitions funded by the Legacy Amendment’s Outdoor Heritage Fund and the state’s long-standing Re-invest in Minnesota (RIM) critical habitat matching fund.

“Setting this land aside for the enjoyment of Minnesota hunters is an investment in the future of our state,” Dayton said. “It also provides critical habitat for wildlife and helps support the local hunting economy.”

The Younger Brothers Wildlife Management Area is named after the notorious 19th century outlaws, the Younger brothers, who along with the Jesse James Gang robbed the Northfield Bank in 1876. Lawmen ultimately cornered the Younger brothers in a slough near the site of the WMA and brought them to justice.

The WMA includes forest, wetland and restored prairie grasses. It is divided into separate parcels totaling 155 and 80 acres. Of the WMA’s total acreage, 195 acres were donated; the DNR paid $91,150 for the remaining 40 acres.

The long-term goal is to add additional acres and develop the area into a larger wildlife habitat complex. The South Central and Watonwan chapters of Pheasants Forever were instrumental in helping acquire the WMA parcels.

“Pheasants Forever has been a valuable partner with the state of Minnesota,” said Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “Since 1988, they have acquired more than 21,000 acres on behalf of the DNR. That’s an impressive amount; these lands will be forever open to the public.”

The Younger Brothers WMA is near one of the state’s new Walk-In Access sites. Walk-In Access sites are private land open to public hunting with the purchase of a $3 validation.

Funding for this project was provided by the Outdoor Heritage Fund, created after voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in November 2008, which increased sales tax by three-eighths of one percent. The Fund receives one-third of the sales tax dollars and may only be spent to restore, protect and enhance wetlands, prairies, forest and habitat for game fish and wildlife.