Date: Dec. 28, 2000
First let me apologize for giving all of you false hopes and expectations in prior letters. Based upon insufficient and changing information I made some inaccurate assumptions and/or statements. I spoke directly with Tim Bremicker on 12/21/00 and Dave Pauly on 12/28/00 and I now believe I understand the degree of involvement/commitment for the Division of Wildlife.
In early summer 2000 the Wildlife Division determined to purchase the Rehbein property utilizing a new Legislative funding source entitled Heritage Account. This 2885-acre tract of land was one of three properties (Meadow Creek Farm, Sennott, Rehbein) that comprised the 16,000-acre 4-Brooks WMA acquisition project.
Early in the LCMR planning phase of the 4-Brooks WMA Initiative many wildlife staff supported the concept of a WMA/RA (w/specific field trial grounds). It was initially designated to be a 3000-acre portion of the 8850-acre Meadow Creek Farm tract. Subsequently and unfortunately while negotiations with DNR were in progress in this state the entire property was sold via a transaction in another state.
The Division of Wildlife will have acquired the Rehbein tract as of 1/1/2001. Currently, there exists several hundred acres of grassland (formerly crop ground) on the eastern side of the parcel. The remaining portion is a mix of regenerating very young aspen/hardwood cover interspersed with ditched and drained wetlands. We dog trialers, working with the local wildlife staff will have two distinct missions ahead;
1. In the short-term we will lease a sizeable portion for trialing purposes, potentially 1500 acres. This lease is necessary in order to satisfy Federal reimbursement program requirements. During this interim period, any facility management or permanent land alteration activities of benefit only to dog trialing will be at our expense. However, the Division of Wildlife will be conducting brushland habitat and wetland restoration management which should provide appropriate cover for both hunter and trialer use. Also, because of potential conflicting uses trialing would be excluded during the later part of hunting seasons. We should plan for the Minnesota Federation of Field Trial Clubs to act as the umbrella for lease activities thereby insuring all sporting dog uses and needs are met.
2. Long-range we will need to work directly with Division of Parks and garner Legislative support and funding thus allowing us to acquire the Rehbein tract from Division of Wildlife and designating Minnesota’s first Recreation Area dedicated to dog trialing. Our legislative initiative would be to acquire at least the 2885-acre Rehbein parcel with potential for additional adjacent lands. This buyback is necessary to satisfy the legislative intent of heritage Account monies. The Division of Wildlife is acting as the bridge making this entire process possible.
Should it take several years for legislative action to occur the Division of Wildlife is willing to expand our lease options to include more Rehbein lands as well as any additional acquisitions. We need to keep in mind there are distinct differences in management strategies and desired conditions between the Lease Option (short-term) and the Recreation Area Option (ultimate designation). This is a phase-by-phase process.
We should congratulate Wildlife Division for securing this Rehbein parcel for future generations and we should applaud Wildlife staff who supported the WMA/RA dog trial area concept. For the first time we have been included and as Tim Bremicker says, “it is a footprint” and it says “we are here”. Area Wildlife Supervisor, Dave Pauly, has pledged to be available to conduct site visits with member club representatives upon request.
If you read just the headlines of articles recently published in the St. Paul Press, Outdoor News and Brainerd Dispatch, you get the impression the entire parcel is available for trialing-this is the case- it just will take some time, energy and partnerships to accomplish. This press recognition will be useful for future legislative presentations and shed a very positive light on our sport and our needs.
On January 16th, at the MFFTC’s winter meeting, Dave Pauly and other members of the DNR will join us and present the project to all who plan to attend. Everyone is invited; you do not have to be a club officer nor belong to a member club to attend this meeting. Your input is necessary, needed and appreciated.