Item Coversheet

Board Action Request

Item Description:
Approve proposed acquisition of two land parcels by the state for inclusion in Wood-Rill Scientific and Natural Area

BE IT RESOLVED that the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners approves the State of Minnesota’s proposed acquisition of land identified as the Bruce Dayton Trust property at 900 and 990 Old Long Lake Road (PIDs 3511823140008 and 3511823140006) in Orono for inclusion in the state of Minnesota’s Wood-Rill Scientific and Natural Area.


History: Wood-Rill Scientific and Natural Area (SNA) is a 141-acre parcel located north of U.S. Highway 12, southeast of Long Lake. It includes exceptional quality sugar maple forest, tamarack swamp, sedge meadows, and old-growth forests. The Bruce Dayton estate gifted fee-title ownership of two parcels, 900 and 990 Old Long Lake Road (PIDs 3511823140008 and 3511823140006) (the “Dayton parcels”) to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for inclusion in the adjacent Wood-Rill SNA. The Dayton parcels are already protected by a conservation easement that is held by the DNR.

There are 168 scientific and natural areas in the state and two in Hennepin County including Wood-Rill. The purpose of SNAs is to protect the best of Minnesota’s remaining natural heritage such as rare species, native prairies, old-growth forests, and significant landforms and geologic features. 

Minnesota Statutes, sections 84.033, 84.944, subd. 3 and 97A.145, subd. 2 require the Commissioner of Natural Resources (“commissioner”) to notify the county board when acquiring land for designation as a scientific and natural area. The county board must approve or disapprove the proposed acquisition within 90 days of the commissioner’s notice. The commissioner notified Hennepin County of the proposed acquisition of PIDs 3511823140008 and 3511823140006 on March 12, 2021.

The Dayton parcels proposed for inclusion in Wood-Rill SNA include high-quality forests, wetland areas, and opportunities for habitat enhancement and restoration, wetland restoration and carbon sequestration.

Current Request: This request is to approve the proposed acquisition of two land parcels (PIDs 3511823140008 and 3511823140006) by the state of Minnesota for inclusion in the state’s Wood-Rill SNA in the city of Orono.

Impact/Outcomes: The addition of these properties to Wood-Rill SNA creates a contiguous 178-acre block of habitat and ensures permanent protection of part of a natural resource corridor that connects Wood-Rill SNA to the Three Rivers Park District’s Baker Park Reserve to the west. Large areas of habitat and connection between large areas of habitat will become increasingly important as wildlife needs to alter range and habitat use as the climate warms. This acquisition helps to provide an uninterrupted corridor of protected habitat that connects Wood-Rill SNA to the Wolsfeld Woods SNA and Baker Park Reserve.

Rare species documented in Wood-Rill SNA include butternut trees (endangered in Minnesota) and red-shouldered hawks (a species of special concern in Minnesota). Addition of these properties to Wood-Rill SNA will help protect and expand habitat for these and other rare species.

Wood-Rill SNA is open to the public for hiking and other non-motorized forms of travel, is bordered to the south by the Luce Line State trail. It is a popular birding location – 87 species of birds have been recorded at Wood-Rill SNA.

Recommendation from County Administrator: Recommend Approval
DescriptionUpload DateType
MAP - Wood-Rill SNA Donation4/27/2021Map