Fish and Wildlife obtains wetland easement
An Osakis area landowner has ensured that a wetland area he owns will be preserved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Fish and Wildlife Service recently secured a 34-acre plot in Orange Township near Burr Oak Road SE south of Interstate 94 from the Jerry D. Kuhlman Living Trust.
The easement will protect the wetland basins while still allowing agricultural use of the property.
Two representatives from the Fish and Wildlife Service from Fergus Falls, Blake Kinsley and Larry Martin, provided information about the acquisition to the Douglas County commissioners at their regular board meeting on March 21.
The commissioners unanimously approved the certification of the acquisition.
In a letter to the county sent prior to the board meeting, Kinsley explained that the landowner, Kuhlman, will retain primary responsibility for weed control, recreational use, access and will continue to be responsible for payment of property taxes.
Kinsley explained that the land is not open to the public, but remains private land. He said there will still be signs that indicate no hunting and no trespassing.
The land is being purchased with funds from the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act, which Martin said is duck stamp money.
"This has nothing to do with the Legacy funding," he told the commissioners.
About wetland easements
An easement is a legal right to use another person's land for a specific purpose, in this case a wetland easement. When someone is granted an easement, he — or in this case, the Fish and Wildlife Service — is granted the legal right to use the property, but the legal title to the land itself remains with the owner of the land — in this case, Kuhlman.
The agreement with a landowner protects the wetlands on their land from being burned, drained, filled or leveled in perpetuity. The landowner receives a one-time payment for protecting the wetlands. If something were to happen to the landowner, the easement is permanent so any future owners would be bound by the easement. The property can be sold, passed on to heirs or given to somebody else, but the easement goes with it.
When protected wetlands go through dry cycles, they can be farmed, grazed or hayed without violating the agreement. The land remains in private control and the landowner controls access to these wetlands.