Princeton Union Eagle
A 274-acre piece of wild land with a lake, mixed hardwoods and evergreens, and a 23-acre stretch of land with prairie grasses located between Princeton and Cambridge-Isanti have just been opened for public use as the new Spencer Brook Wildlife Management Area.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources dedicated the new wildlife area on Sept. 7. Off Isanti County Road 5, down 303rd Avenue, a long dirt road with fence on both sides leads to a fenced-in parking area, where visitors can leave vehicles behind and walk into the wildlife area.
It is open for hunting, trapping and wildlife observation and is off-limits to all-terrain vehicles and other unlicensed motor vehicles.
DNR Area Wildlife Supervisor Tim Marion, who took part in the dedication, said it took nearly 3 1/2 years to acquire most of the property. It was owned by four private landowners – Cliff Edblad and Loren Lindberg from the area, and Gerald Eggert and Mark Melius from the Twin Cities area — according to Marion.
The four gave a “substantial donation off the appraised price of the land,” Marion noted.
The owners were in favor of seeing the property being dedicated as a wildlife area and not ending up as a housing development, Marion said.
Just beyond the parking lot are evergreens. A very old burr oak is situated between the parking lot and the start of a slope that leads to a hillside, upon which stretches corn and soybean wildlife plots, planted by Pheasants Forever. Westerly beyond the hill and through trees, down the other side of the hill, the blue water of what Marion described as a high-quality wild rice lake, formerly known as Kelly Lake, is visible.
The lake is about 80 acres and “wetlands are pretty important to the DNR right now,” Marion said.
Spencer Brook Wildlife Management Area does not have trails and is not established for such use. The fence is meant to keep people from driving over the prairie.
Marion emphasized the role of the funds and donations by sportsmen groups to help establish the new wildlife area. For example, the Lessards Sams Outdoor Heritage Fund was used to buy 234 acres for the site in 2010.
Among the groups who donated to make the acquisition possible and who worked on acquiring grants were the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Isanti County Sportsmen’s Club, state and local chapters of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, Isanti County chapter of Pheasants Forever, Rum River Chapter of Quality Deer Hunters Association and the Minnesota Trappers Association.
“These projects would not be accomplished without the coordination and generosity of the local sportsmens groups,” Marion said.