DNR to open Lillijord Road on Lac qui Parle WMA to seasonal use

A wildlife management area (WMA) corridor, known locally as Lillijord Road, will be opened to seasonal use by highway licensed vehicles (HLV), according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“We support the request by local legislators, township officials and others to open the WMA service road to seasonal use by motor vehicles,” said Paul Telander, DNR Wildlife section chief.

The service road or corridor impacted is a portion of the Lillijord Road that passes through the Lac qui Parle WMA in Chippewa County, south of Appleton. Testimony during Legislative hearings on the issue last winter verified that it is not a public road and that DNR has jurisdiction over the corridor. It was constructed to an engineering standard sufficient to allow DNR service vehicles access to the WMA for management purposes, and not to a public road standard. The DNR is responsible for maintaining the corridor and protecting the public investment made when the service road was recently rebuilt.

“In the past, the service road was degraded by motor vehicles to the point of becoming impassable,” Telander said. “It cannot stand year-round traffic, so the DNR will manage the road for seasonal use.”

The Lac qui Parle corridor, south of the Swift/Chippewa County line, will be managed as follows:

• For the remainder of 2013, the use of HLVs will be allowed from Nov. 7-17. This will provide access prior to and through the nine-day firearms deer season.
• For 2014 and 2015, HLVs will be allowed to use the WMA corridor during two time periods:
1. Beginning on opening of the statewide walleye and northern pike fishing season in mid-May through the Tuesday after Labor Day in late summer.
2. Beginning on Thursday before opening of the November firearms deer season through the end of nine-day deer season.

Telander said the DNR will closely monitor the corridor and may temporarily close access to prevent damage due to heavy rains, late snow, water or wind debris on the corridor, spring frost boils or other conditions that may cause road damage or pose a danger to the public.

To manage access of the corridor, the DNR will install a gate at the county line. During closed periods, users will be encouraged to park in the traditional WMA parking lot, north of the county line. A sign will be installed at the parking lot informing motorists of road closures and limited room to maneuver on the corridor.

“We appreciate public interest in the WMA corridor,” Telander said, “and will monitor access to meet the needs of WMA users and protect the integrity of the corridor.”