Members of the Wood Lake Battlefield Preservation Association had reason to celebrate Saturday during its annual meeting held that afternoon at the Pizza Ranch in Redwood Falls.
After years of work, a major step forward was made when it signed a conservation easement with the owners of a 240-acre piece of land where a significant part of the Battle of Wood Lake took place.
“It took a long time,”?said Tom Hosier, WLBPA founder and president during the meeting, “and we are pleased it is done.”
However, said Hosier, now is not the time to rest on its laurels, as there is still plenty of work left to do to get the historic site to the place where the public can stop and visit the site to learn about and commemorate the last major battle of the Dakota Conflict.
Hosier said the leadership of the WLBPA, which had met earlier in the day, was working to create its vision regarding how to move forward with the easement and the interpretation which would take place there.
He also said there are other pieces of land that could still be acquired where the battle took place.
Among those pieces of land is one owned by David and Donna Ims, and Hosier announced those owners have expressed interest in creating an easement on that site as well.
“The Ims land is where the ambush was to have taken place,”?said Hosier, adding it is a significant piece of the story.
Work toward that easement continues, he added.
In addition to land easements, Hosier said issues of erosion in the creek that runs through the battlefield site are being addressed.
“We want to help in that process,”?said Hosier, adding in the Coulter property that could mean adding vegetation on the land.
Of course, getting land back into native prairie at the site is part of the long-term plan.
With the 150th anniversary of the battle taking place this year, Hosier said a dedication is going to be held at the site Sept. 22 with that event replacing the annual symposium.
While the current monument is not in any significant disrepair, Hosier said WLBPA members have been in contact with officials from the Minnesota Historical Society to create a plan to ensure that monument repaired as needed.
Hosier also said parking plans are also being discussed to help get people off of the major roadways helping to create a safe setting for visitors.
Ensuring equal interpretation at the site is also a priority moving forward, said Hosier.
Hosier also said there are plans in the works to erect additional signage on TH67 to guide visitors to the site of the battle.
Page 2 of 2 - “So few people still know what is out there,” he said, adding new efforts should help to change all of that.