The Yellow Medicine Board of Commissioners received a visit from Troy Dale of the Department for Natural Resources (DNR) during their meeting on Tuesday, February 13. Dale provided more details to the commissioners about a recent land donation in Burton Township, just south of Canby.

The two parcels of land (312.2 total acres) were purchased from private landowners by Pheasants Forever, an organization dedicated to wildlife habitat conservation. Last year, they were formally gifted to the state of Minnesota, which has since reorganized the land as the James Meger Wildlife Management Area. The two parcels are divided by a half-section of land which will remain under private ownership as a protected Reinvest In Minnesota (RIM) grassland.

During their meeting, Dale shared upcoming management plans with the Board. He said the DNR plans on restoring native grasses to roughly 60 acres of land, while also planting “a mix of native oaks, conifers, and shrubs on another 8 acres.” He said that these changes “will help to stabilize soils, reduce sedimentation and filter runoff water before entering Mud Creek.” He also added that the DNR project will “provide habitat for resident wildlife including deer, turkey, waterfowl, pheasants, and other grassland-dependent wildlife, while also providing vital habitat for numerous pollinator species.”

The Yellow Medicine East and Lyon County chapters of Pheasants Forever partnered together to purchase the land from the Lorraine Musolf family and the Yellow Medicine Farm Partnership. According to the DNR, the donations will “add quality acres of publicly accessible lands. The area supports good deer, turkey, and pheasant numbers and this WMA will help continue to conserve and build upon those wild populations.”

During their meeting with Board commissioners, Dale reported that the DNR has received largely positive feedback from hunters, who say that the land has helped sustain a large pheasant population. No additional action was required of the board after the DNR presentation.

In other news:

Planning and Zoning Administrator/Ditch Inspector Chris Balfany visited with the Board to discuss a hearing date to the decide the possible consolidation of County Ditch 31. He said the decision involves no private waterways, and makes sense for accounting purposes. The consolidation comes after a lengthy assessment process that began in 2011. Balfany said the county would hold landowner meetings beforehand to sort out any possible problems. After some procedural confusion, the Board passed a resolution setting up a public hearing for April 10 at 2:00 pm at the Lower Level of the County Training Room at the Justice Center.

Maintenance Foreman Larry Soks reported on his efforts to sell a county owned truck. He expressed frustration at the low trade-in quote, and said that he will explore other options to sell the vehicle directly. Currently, the County rotates through service trucks every ten years, but according to Soks, newer vehicles seem to last longer. Soks has roughly 6 months before the replacement vehicle is due to arrive.

Family Services Director Rae Ann Keeler Aus introduced two new social workers, Amanda Johnson and Shyanne Soderstrom. Both are recent college graduates and have been on the job less than a month. They expressed their excitement at working with the county.

The Board approved the hiring of Lacey Riggae as the new Finance Manager. Her scheduled start date is February 28. Riggae will replace Michelle May, who was recently appointed interim Auditor/Treasurer for Chippewa County.

The County Board also approved the hiring of Russ Blue as a part-time Deputy Sheriff. His start date has yet to be determined.