Fargo News

Minnesota Land Trust and Northern Lights Council, BSA, join forces to secure permanent protection for Boy Scout Camp Wilderness

A section of Boy Scout Camp Wilderness has been permanently protected due to a collaboration between the Minnesota Land Trust and the Northern Lights Council of the Boy Scouts of America in Fargo. This protected area encompasses over 3,600 feet of natural shoreline on Bad Axe Lake and 219 acres of land and water near Park Rapids, Minnesota.

The organizations highlight that this habitat hosts a diverse range of plant and animal species, including the ecologically vital tullibee (also known as “cisco”) in Bad Axe Lake and downstream Tullibee Refuge Lakes.

By permanently protecting this part of Camp Wilderness, nature adventures will remain available to young people for generations to come. This is particularly important in a region of Minnesota where undeveloped and sensitive shorelands are increasingly being lost to vacation home construction.

To date, the Minnesota Land Trust has assisted in protecting 37 camps, nature centers, and environmental learning centers (ELCs) throughout the state, preserving 4,856 acres of natural land and over 37 miles of undeveloped shoreline.

Located in central Minnesota’s Paul Bunyan State Forest, Camp Wilderness spans 2,400 acres and has provided an outdoor program integral to the local Scouting experience since 1946.

Richard McCartney, Scout Executive of the Northern Lights Council, states, “Environmental conservation has always been a part of the Scouting Program; it’s embedded in the Scout Oath and Law and codified in the Outdoor Code. We feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to demonstrate this value by protecting Camp Wilderness, an important resource the Council has used to teach outdoor ethics for over 75 years.”

The Hubbard County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) supported the completion of this multi-year protection project. The county typically collaborates with landowners using easements and long-term forest stewardship plans (FSPs), ensuring that both the landowner’s vision and conservation best practices contribute to the long-term vitality of shared local resources, community, and economy.

Crystal Mathisrud, Hubbard County SWCD District Manager, said, “Protecting Camp Wilderness and Bad Axe Lake, which is the headwaters of the Mantrap Chain of Lakes, is an important accomplishment that will ensure The Boy Scouts of America leave a visible local legacy of conservation.”

Bad Axe Lake houses a diverse population of fish species, including black crappie, largemouth bass, muskie, northern pike, smallmouth bass, and walleye, as well as tullibee, a smaller fish species that supports Minnesota’s large gamefish populations. The Minnesota DNR reports that tullibee numbers have declined by approximately 60% over the past 30 years.

Lakes like Bad Axe face increasing threats from subdivision and development on and near their shores. These actions diminish mature tree cover that helps cool the water below, weaken natural habitats, and increase the flow of pollutants into waterways.

“Seventy-five percent is the magic number,” said Ruurd Schoolderman, Minnesota Land Trust Program Manager for this project. “Protecting at least seventy-five percent of the surrounding lands that direct water into Big Sand Lake ensures that the water will remain clean and cold enough for tullibee to survive even in a warming climate.”

Jimmy Hathaway

Having spent my formative years in the beloved city of Grand Forks, I eventually relocated to Fargo during my second decade of life. The passion for journalism runs deep within my bloodline, as numerous close relatives have been, and some continue to be, engaged in the field as reporters and journalists. Outside of my professional pursuits, I cherish the moments spent in the company of my family.

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