A popular spot for anglers, boaters, campers, skiers, snowmobilers, and conservationists will now be preserved in a successful seven-year campaign to save Stony Point.
The Trust for Public Land recently announced 40 acres of land at Stony Point was formally acquired by the United States Forest Service.
The pristine property, including its half-mile shoreline along Leech Lake, is now part of the Chippewa National Forest.
"Fishing on Leech Lake and camping at Stony Point campground has been a family tradition for us for over 20 years. It is one of the best fishing spots on the lake-I taught my son to fish on those same waters. Now I know that he can teach his children the beauty of the outdoors, and their children after them. The Minnesota Northwoods are more than a vacation spot to us. They are part of our family and our heritage," said Greg Kvale with Anglers for Habitat.
The Stony Point story began in 2009, when the property's longtime owner announced plans to develop the property with luxury second homes. Those plans included the construction of a paved road across sensitive wetlands, which could disrupt the area's delicate ecosystem, destroy Native American artifacts, and degrade the water quality of Leech Lake, the third largest lake in Minnesota and a favorite spot for local anglers, the Trust for Public Land reported.
The U.S. Forest Service wanted to protect the property as an addition to the Chippewa National Forest, but the agency lacked the necessary funding. The Trust for Public Land then stepped in and purchased the property in 2009, intending to hold it only until federal funding became available through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The fund is funded by a small fraction of revenues generated by offshore oil and gas royalty payments; it is not supported with general taxpayer dollars. Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars for Stony Point did not become available until this year. The land was purchased using $1.05 million of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
"Landowners and would-be developers aren't willing to wait six or seven years for LWCF funding to become available. To protect our beloved public spaces, we have to act quickly. We are fortunate that the Northwoods Protection Fund gives us that flexibility, and today's announcement is yet another reason to be grateful for the generosity of the donors who created the fund," said Bob McGillivray, senior project manager, The Trust for Public Land, recently in a news release.
"We appreciate the partnership with The Trust for Public Land," Darla Lenz, forest supervisor, Chippewa National Forest. "Thanks to their support, the American public will be able to enjoy this lakeshore and property in perpetuity."
Elected officials also hailed the news in written statements.
"Stony Point is important to Minnesota's conservation efforts, recreational activities, and economy," said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. "That's why I worked to help secure funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund to acquire this property as an addition to the Chippewa National Forest. This acquisition will boost tourism, benefit local Minnesota businesses, and allow people to share in our state's natural beauty all while conserving our wetlands for generations of anglers, boaters, and campers to come."
"Chippewa National Forest is a Northern Minnesota treasure, which is why it's so important for the forest to have lake access points that keep campers, anglers, boaters, and tourists coming back year after year," said Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. "It's great to see that the Stony Point project has been finished and that it received support from an important Land and Water Conservation Fund grant that I fought for."
"Stony Point is a wonderful location for local families, individuals and tourists to visit and enjoy the great Minnesota outdoors," stated Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn. "That's why I led a bipartisan effort to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which expands access to public lands for recreation, conserves natural habitat and helps create good jobs in Minnesota's $10 billion tourist industry. This acquisition will allow for the protection of this precious land for generations to come."
Stony Point is noted for its old-growth hardwood site, birding opportunities, beautiful spring wildflowers and includes an interpretive trail.
To visit Stony Point, from Walker, go 6 miles east on Highway 200, turn left on County Road 13 (Onigum Road) and go 5 miles to Forest Road 3797 and take a right and follow signs to the Stony Point Campground.