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Want to own a park? DNR hosts Houston County land sale Oct. 21

The Department of Natural Resources is holding a land auction in Rochester on Oct. 21, 2022, for a parcel in Houston County and another in Anoka County.

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Rocky outcroppings in southeastern Minnesota's Driftless area in Houston County.
Post Bulletin file photo
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ROCHESTER — Want parkland of your own?

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is offering an opportunity to do so. Sort of.

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The DNR is holding a public land auction in Rochester Oct. 21. The department holds land sales via public auction each autumn. This year, parcels for sale in Anoka and Houston counties will be offered at an in-person auction.

According to DNR property data sheets, a 50-foot-wide strip of land in the bluffs of the Driftless area southwest of Houston and south of the Root River is on the block. The land is across from a larger parcel of DNR-owned land and is surrounded by privately owned land.

A small parcel in Anoka County is on sale to resolve encroachment of a private building on state land.

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The DNR’s mission is to conserve and manage the state's natural resources while providing Minnesotans outdoor recreation opportunities. Public lands and parks play key roles in that mission. So why sell public land to private parties?

The DNR manages 5.6 million acres of land in Minnesota. Not all of that land has use in current and future DNR plans, according to Andrea Johnson, the DNR’s realty program coordinator.

Johnson said land sold usually no longer meet conservation or recreation needs. These types of land parcels are often isolated from larger management areas or parcels, or are sold to resolve conflicting management uses.

“People who purchase vacant land often use the parcel for hunting or other recreational purposes or as an add-on property if purchased by adjacent landowners,” Johnson said.

Former lakeshore lands are popular spots for cabins or places people park camper trailers, she added.

Occasionally, but not often, lands sold come with infrastructure.

“On the rare occasion we sell an old office site or other building it may be used for a hunting camp or small business,” Johnson said.

The auction Oct. 21 is in-person, but during COVID-19, online auctions gained popularity and spurred additional bidding. This year two in-person auctions, one in Olmsted County Oct. 21 and one in Wadena County Oct. 14 are being held.

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If you go

What: Public land auction.

When: 11 a.m., Friday, Oct. 21, 2022,

Where: Minnesota Department of Transportation Southeast District Headquarters, 2900 48th St. NW, Rochester.

John Molseed joined the Post Bulletin in 2018. He covers arts, culture, entertainment, nature and other fun stories he's surprised he gets paid to cover. When he's not writing articles about Southeast Minnesota artists and musicians, he's either picking banjo, brewing beer, biking or looking for other hobbies that begin with the letter "b." Readers can reach John at 507-285-7713 or jmolseed@postbulletin.com.
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