604-acre Veterans State Wildlife Management Area open near Clearwater
More than 600 acres in Minnesota’s Stearns and Wright counties were permanently conserved in honor of Minnesota’s military veterans. The Minnesota Veterans Wildlife Management Area is now open to public hunting and outdoor recreation. Located south of Clearwater, the project was created in part by funding from Minnesota’s Outdoor Heritage Fund (created by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment) and Pheasants Forever’s “Build a Wildlife Area” program.
Acquired in 2014, the 604-acre Veterans State Wildlife Management Area stands out as a large, permanently protected area of wildlife habitat near the Twin Cities metro region and serves as a memorial to the sacrifices made by military servicemen and women. The area, managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, is open to public hunting and outdoor recreation in perpetuity. “Wildlife habitat conserved forever not only functions as a fitting tribute to those who served, it will always be there to fulfill the outdoor passions so many veterans have,” says Joe Duggan of Pheasants Forever.
This land donation in honor of our state’s heroes is an excellent example of support from Pheasants Forever and the larger community,” said Larry Shellito, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs. “The Veterans State Wildlife Management Area not only honors our veterans, but serves as a permanent reminder of the sacrifices made by our servicemen and women. For generations to come, veterans and outdoor enthusiasts alike can utilize this area and enjoy all our state’s wildlife resources have to offer.” The Veterans State Wildlife Management Area project was supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Minnesota Commander’s Task Force.
About half of the Veterans State Wildlife Management Area property consists of extremely diverse, high-quality restored native prairie. The remainder is a combination of mature oak woodland, wetlands and riparian - the Clearwater River runs for a half mile through the property. This new wildlife area is also within a mile of the existing 1,000-acre-plus Succonix Wildlife Management Area, so the two units complement each other and build a corridor of publicly-accessible wildlife habitat.
Corporate support for the Veterans State Wildlife Management Area was provided by Apple Auto Group, Federal Premium Ammunition, Outdoor News, employees of Graco, Muller Family Theatres, Rassat Outdoor Group, MobileStrong, Beerforwildlife.com and the Del-Tone/Luth Gun Range. Additional partners include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Minnesota Waterfowl Association - Tri County Chapter, National Wild Turkey Federation, Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (including the Crow River, Sherburne County, Swampbucks and North Suburban chapters) and the Minnesota Lady Slippers, Mississippi Longtails, Anoka County, Wright County and Stearns County Pheasants Forever chapters. The project was completed thanks to the Smith family and many individual donations and memorial gifts.
MINNESOTA VETERANS WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA OVERVIEW
The Minnesota Veterans WMA is located near Clearwater, Minn. From the I-94 interchange in Clearwater, take State Hwy. 24 south 3.5 miles. The Wildlife Management Area parking lot is on the left (east) side of the highway.
Land Use and Habitat
The property has a diverse mix of hardwood forest, wetland and upland grasslands. The Clearwater River bisects the property giving it a unique riparian characteristic with wonderful vistas of southeast "Hardwood Hills" subsection forest.