DNR updates county on land acquisition

Joe Stangel, Area Wildlife Manager for the Minnesota DNR, was present for the Tuesday, July 9 meeting of the Le Sueur County Board, primarily to update the commissioners on the acquisition of two parcels of land on Diamond Lake in Kilkenny Township, immediately north of the town of Kilkenny.
The parcels, 13 acres purchased from Darrell and Donna Knish, and 36 acres purchased from Michael, Dennis and Nada Hogan, were purchased by Ducks Unlimited through the land affiliate organization Wetlands America Trust, which now holds title to the properties. Stangel did not indicate the dollar amount of the purchase. 
The parcels will be transferred to the DNR for inclusion in the state’s Diamond Lake Wildlife Management Area. Ducks Unlimited will pay all taxes in full during the brief ownership while the state processes the land donations to the DNR, after which time the DNR will make Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT). The PILT payments will continue for four years, to replace the property taxes lost because of the transfer.
Stangel said DNR management of the area will include installation of a water control outlet structure and a fish barrier, since it has an abundance of carp, which are not good for shallow waters.
Board Chair Steve Rohlfing thanked Stangel for updating the commissioners on the project, and also encouraged him to “Carry a message to your superiors that perhaps ‘enough is enough’ and the DNR should consider handling what it already has, rather than expanding to additional projects.”
The board also:
• Adopted a resolution authorizing imposition of a wheelage tax in 2014. The state legislature gave counties authority to levy a wheelage tax on each vehicle at a rate of $10 per vehicle through 2017 and up to $20 per vehicle in 2018 and beyond. Proceeds of the tax would be used to help improve the quality of the county road system. The tax will be effective January 1, 2014, when vehicle owners renew their registration. County Administrator/Engineer Darrell Pettis said Le Sueur County will raise more than $300,000 with the wheelage tax, which will help replace property tax changes because of levy limits.