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Paynesville Press - August 29, 2001

Prairie to be dedicated as wildlife habitat

The Stearns Prairie Heritage Wildlife Management Area - a 391-acre prairie habitat - will be dedicated on Thursday, Aug. 30, at 7 p.m. This wildlife management area is located just south of Georgeville, which is ten miles northwest of Paynesville along Highway 55.

The dedication ceremony will be held in the parking area, which is on the north side of Highway 55 to the east of Georgeville.

The Stearns Prairie Heritage Wildlife Management Area borders the North Fork of the Crow River and has one of the largest tracts of remnant prairie in Stearns County, said Fred Bengtson, the Department of Natural Resources Area Wildlife Manager from Sauk Rapids.

It also will be a valuable wintering area for deer and pheasants, Bengtson added.

Wildlife management areas are open to the public for hunting, trapping, and hiking.

The Stearns Prairie Heritage Wildlife Management Area (WMA) was purchased in two phases, concluding in May 2000. Nearly 20 organizations contributed to the land purchases from willing sellers. Donors included: Stearns County Pheasants Forever, the Green Grove Rod and Gun Club, and the Paynesville Sportsmen's Club.

"The Stearns Prairie Heritage Wildlife Management Area is a tribute to Stearns County Pheasants Forever and the many other conservation groups that have joined together unselfishly to purchase this unique area and donate it as a state wildlife management area. This WMA will be available for future generations to hunt, trap, walk on, and best of all provide and protect a valuable piece of wildlife habitat," said Bengtson.

Dave Ingalsbe, president of the Paynesville Sportsmen's Club, estimated the club spent nearly $75,000 over five years in gambling proceeds to purchase land for the wildlife management area. In the past five to six years, the club has helped purchase around 1,000 acres for habitat, Ingalsbe added.

The Sportsmen's Club plans to purchase a 40-acre parcel that adjoins the Stearns Prairie Heritage Wildlife Management Area and dedicate it in honor of Mike Ogdahl, a Paynesville businessman and active club member who died in 1999.

The club also is working on another wildlife management area west of Paynesville, said Ingalsbe.

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