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Trout stream easements good for fishers (05/23/2004)
Dave Axeness, a pharmacist from Mankato says "I love going down to southeastern Minnesota to fish trout. And knowing that I'll always have a place to fish when I get there is a primary reason I keep coming back."

Axeness is referring to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) trout stream easement program. That program has been in place since the 1950s to purchase the right for angler access from willing property owners. Funding comes from angling licenses, trout stamps and legislative appropriations. Simply put, the easement agreement allows anglers the right to fish trout along a certain stream corridor and DNR Fisheries the right to access the property to manage the stream.

In exchange, the landowner receives a payment to compensate them for selling partial rights to the property. The easement becomes a permanent part of the deed and automatically transfers with new land ownership, ensuring that the stream is always accessible to the public.

Steve Klotz, DNR Fisheries specialist at the Lanesboro Fisheries office, calls the easement program "one of those ‘quiet' tools that you don't hear much about but that are so important for both anglers, landowners and fisheries managers."

Klotz said that about 180 of the 680 miles of trout streams in southeastern Minnesota can be accessed by anglers under the program. (Another 70 miles are accessible on public lands, e.g. State parks.) You really have to tip your hat to those landowners who have volunteered to become part of the program," Klotz said. "Although they receive a payment for enrolling, they also understand how important it is to protect these coldwater streams while also allowing other people to enjoy them."

The program currently pays landowners $5 per foot of stream frontage as well as a per acre payment based on land values within the township. The width of the standard trout stream easement is 66 feet from the centerline of the stream in both directions.

As an example, take a landowner with 2,500 feet of stream frontage. Multiply 132 feet (66 feet x 2 = 132 feet) by 2,500 feet; (132 feet x 2500 feet = 330,000 square feet) and you have 7.6 acres (330,000 square feet/43,560 square feet per acre).

If the value of land in the township set by the Department of Revenue is $1,750 per acre (some are higher, some lower), the total comes to $13,300. Then, add in the $5 per foot of stream frontage and the total payment would be $25,800.

"That $25,800 is nothing to sneeze at," Klotz acknowledged. "But when you also consider the enjoyment that the landowner will be providing to anglers, and the benefits that will come with good stream management, you can understand why so many landowners feel good about the program."

Axeness couldn't agree more. "I hope the DNR never gets rid of this program. And to those landowners who have agreed to participate, I want them to know how much it's appreciated. Thank you to each of them."

For additional information on the trout stream easement program, contact Steve Klotz at 507-467-2442; or, steve.klotz@dnr.state.mn.us. 


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