(FOX 9) - A three-mile stretch along the St. Croix River previously owned by Xcel Energy for nearly a century has been donated to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The DNR announced it received the 729-acre land donation near Chisago City from Trust for Public Land (TPL) – nonprofit that works from more than 30 offices nationwide to "raise funds, conduct research and planning, acquire and protect land, and design and renovate parks, playgrounds, trails, and gardens."
The land will now be managed by the DNR as part of the Chengwatana State Forest.
"The benefits of public land projects like this are tremendous, providing clean water and air, high-quality habitat, and recreational opportunities," DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen said in a statement. "We look forward to managing this land to meet Minnesotans’ recreation, conservation and economic needs into the future."
The donated land includes forests, grassland and several creeks, streams, and ponds, according to the announcement.
TPL initially led the effort to purchase it using a grant funded by the Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Fund – part of the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment passed in 2008 to increase the sales tax by 3/8 of one percent to protect, enhance and restore wetlands, prairies, forests, and fish, game, and wildlife habitat.
Donating the land to the DNR safeguards the diversity of native ecosystems, improves connectivity between natural lands, protects drinking water, and provides public access for recreational activities.
According to its site, TPL’s supporters have helped preserve 99,773 acres of open space throughout Minnesota.