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Land issues dominate agenda


Fri, Mar 9th, 2001
Posted in

Monday, March 12, 2001

By Mike McGrath

If you own property along a trout stream in Southeast Minnesota, you probably have been approached by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) about selling a fishing easement. If you haven’t been asked yet, then it might not be very long until you are.

According to Steve Klotz with DNR Fisheries, the state’s natural resource agency is actively trying to acquire easements along the county’s trout streams to give anglers access to the waterways. Klotz was before the County Board last week to explain the program.

"The program is simple and straight forward," explained Klotz. "We don’t purchase land fee title, it is just an easement."

According to Klotz, the 132-foot wide easements he negotiates with landowners are a "right that is afforded for a limited use." That use is twofold: for citizens to fish the waterway and for the right of the DNR staff to access the stream for fish management purposes. The easement does not include rights for hunting or trapping.

In the last six months the DNR has spent over $500,000 to acquire easements in Southeast Minnesota. Klotz noted that the South Branch of the Root River is a high priority for his program, but that the width of the river requires the easements to be 264 feet wide, 132 feet each side of the centerline of the river.

To acquire the easement, the DNR will pay 90% of the appraised value of the land to be in easement. The landowner retains rights and title to the property, but an examination of the Trout Stream Easement agreement handed out at the Board meeting shows that there are some conditions. Certain activities such as building a structure, cutting trees, excavating or dumping would require permission of the DNR. Tillage in the easement is also restricted.

Klotz’s presentation brought a few questions from Commissioner Gary Peterson.

"Is there a time or term limit on these easements?" inquired Peterson.

"The easement is perpetual," replied Klotz.

Again from Peterson, "Once you give an easement, can you get out of it?"

"No," responded Klotz, also noting that the State Attorney General’s office says that would go against the purpose of getting the easement.

"This is not a high pressure thing at all," added Klotz referring to the program. "Most landowners let people fish."
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