Thirty-five years ago, Scott Larson bought some lakefront property at Norway Lake; after donating the land to the DNR as a wildlife preserve, the donation is still generating preservation efforts in Redwood county.
Thirty-five years ago Scott Larson bought 20 acres of lakefront property on Norway Lake.
The goal: great duck hunting.
Larson had just completed two years working for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources fisheries department, and was back in Redwood Falls working at the family business, Larson’s Home Furnishings.
But the outdoors still beckoned, and those 20 acres on Norway Lake were a great weekend retreat.
To make the experience complete, Larson moved an old chicken coop to the site as a cabin, complete with old pot-bellied stove. Many good times relaxing with friends ensued.
Around the same time, Larson helped found the Ducks Unlimited chapter in Redwood Falls.
Today the old chicken coop is gone, and all that remains of those good days is the pot-bellied shove.
Meanwhile, development around Norway Lake has only grown in recent years. Today there is far less untouched land than there was when Larson bought his property.
A couple years ago, Larson began wondering what to do with the land.
“I’m 62, and Robin and I don’t have any children. As things sort of change in your life, you see some things and maybe want to create some permanency to them,” he said.
And an answer began forming in his mind, inspired by his college days.
As a biology major at St. Cloud State University in the early 1970s, Larson went on field trips ranging from Duluth to the Black Hills to Iowa to study ecologically significant areas.
“We were shown special places, and realized they could disappear,” Larson said.
The final result: the sixth Aquatic Management Area in Kandiyohi County — the Scott C. Larson Tract — was dedicated on October 22, 2012.
“The 20 acre parcel represents one of the largest remaining tracts of undeveloped shoreline on Norway Lake,” noted Dave Coahran, supervisor of the DNR fisheries division in Spicer. “We were pleased to work with Scott Larson on this significant property.”
Larson said the land today is “marginal for cabins, but terrific for wildlife habitat. Minnesotans are attracted to water, and sometimes we love our lakes to death,” said Larson at the dedication.
He continued, “We have a strong legacy of great parks (and protected area) managed by our Department of Natural Resources. I’m happy to continue that tradition of protection by giving back and sharing.”
However, the donation of the land is only half the story.
The appraised value of the donated land was $549,000. However, Larson sold it to the state for less than half it’s value, for only $200,000.
In other words, Larson effectively donated the remaining $349,000 to the state, which can then use the credit for the Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) program.
“We can use that money to buy and protect other lands,” said Rich Walsh, the DNR’s Fish and Wildlife Acquisition coordinator.
Some of the credits have already been used to buy protected lands along the Minnesota River, at Whispering Ridge Wildlife Management Area, and Cedar Rock Aquatic Management Area.
“I requested (the credit) be used in or near Redwood County because it’s where I live, and there’s a big push for habitat preservation along the river,” said Larson.
“I always understood the concept of giving back more than you take, and that individuals can make a difference.”