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Riverfront property gains permanent protection

<i>Submitted images</i> This aerial view depicts the 4.3-acre site (shown in red) that will be perpetually protected. It is within city limits and near the Kinnickinnic River (shown in blue).1 / 2
Kinnickinnic River Land Trust Director Nelson French, left, and local attorney and businessman Chuck Bye reached an agreement last week that will conserve riverfront property and acreage around it.2 / 2

The Kinnickinnic River Land Trust ended the year on a high note when last week it closed a bargain-sale land contract to acquire 4.3 acres that are within the city limits and include 530 feet of riverbank.

The L-shaped piece of land sits on the south side of the Bye, Goff and Rohde office building, adjacent to the north end of Riverside Drive (near McDonald's) and the south end of Paulson Road.

KRLT Director Nelson French said the land trust closed the deal with local attorney and businessman Chuck Bye, who negotiated the deal on behalf of his limited liability corporation, New Wood Construction and Forestry, that owned the property. French said they signed the deal Dec. 29 during a closing at St. Croix Valley Title Company.

"I have found great enjoyment in watching fisherman and others enjoy the natural surroundings of this property over the years," said Bye. "I can now take great satisfaction in knowing that this area will be permanently protected, restored to better ecological health, and available for the public to use forever."

French says it is the first property within city limits to gain permanent protection from development. He speculates that some of the well-beaten paths within the site may have been blazed by American Indians traveling to and from the river.

Existing paths at the site will be left alone, and mowed paths will be maintained. The land will be open and accessible to all for bird watching, fishing, hiking and observing nature.

French says the site will be named the Olympia Preserve and become part of the broader effort to conserve natural resources in the Quarry Road area, also known as the Olympia Priority Conservation Site.

KRLT Conservation Manager Eric Forward said the latest acquisition is the fourth to be added with the conservation area, which also includes: 14.7 acres called the Kaplan Conservation Easement and acquired in 1997; 53 acres acquired in 1999 in the area of the Swinging Gate access point just north of the city along Hwy. 65; and most recently in 2010, 114.8 acres near Quarry Road that were once slated for a controversial housing development but were acquired in a deal last year from the First National Bank of River Falls.

French said land management of the Olympia Preserve will include restoring wetlands and native-species vegetation, encouraging healthy plant communities, removing invasive or exotic species, preventing erosion, improving recreation, and protecting the streambank and resident wildlife.

French said DNR Fisheries Manager Martin Engel agreed that the newly protected area is a natural extension of the of the fishery area and commented, "the adjoining DNR land has some of the heaviest fishing pressure in the state of Wisconsin."

As part of its Protect the Kinni campaign, KRLT seeks funding assistance to complete the land deal from the DNR's Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Stream Bank program and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service North American Wetland Conservation Act Small Grant program. But, French said private donations are always welcomed and tax deductible.

KRLT is a non-profit organization dedicated to the mission of working with the community to protect the natural resources and scenic beauty of the Kinnickinnic River. Learn more about KRLT by calling 715-425-5738 or online at at