Lessard Sams Outdoor Heritage Fund

Shell Rock River Headwaters Restoration Project – H-10

The Shell Rock River Watershed District (SRRWD) proposes to acquire fee title to 257 acres of land that encompasses the headwaters of the Shell Rock River. The SRRWD has secured an option to purchase this property, which includes both banks of the first 1.4 miles of the headwaters of the Shell Rock River, the Juglans dam at the outlet of Albert Lea Lake and Juglans Woods, a unique combination of upland and lowland forest and abundant aquatic and waterfowl habitat. This property is a top priority for protection by the Department of Natural Resources and is supported by Freeborn County and multiple local organizations.

This project provides each component of Article IX of the Constitution (restore, protect and enhance Minnesota’s wetlands, prairies, forests and habitat for fish, game and wildlife) and is consistent with the SRRWD Management plan developed in 2004.

The project is time sensitive since this land acquisition is the key component to leveraging a $4.8 million US Army Corps of Engineers 206 Federal Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Grant. This Federal leveraging project offers water quality, wetland restoration and habitat restoration. The District will be contributing $2.68 million in local funds and/or in-kind services. This multi-agency partnership will provide a unique opportunity to improve and preserve critical habitat and provide funds and management to improve habitat and water quality on both Albert Lea Lake and the Shell Rock River.

• The SRRWD will provide $2.68 million in local funding and/or in-kind services as part of the US Army Corps of Engineers 206 Federal Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Grant in addition to the land purchase. 

The 257 acre parcel is located within the Albert Lea State Game Refuge and compliments other existing activities for wildlife/fisheries management and recreation opportunities. The property has various natural amenities that include: 

• Outlet of Albert Lea Lake 

• The headwaters of the Shell Rock River 

• 1.4 Miles of Shell Rock River within the property 

• Floodplain and mesic hardwood forest 

• Undisturbed highly diversified wetland complexes and riparian corridors. 

• Undisturbed native plant communities, 

* Provide critical protection of fall migration habitat. 

• Possible pre-historic native American habitation sites.

Opportunities for native habitat restoration for the parcel include:

• Native plant seed bank development

• Wetland creation and restoration

• Native prairie establishment

• Floodplain forest and mesic forest restoration

• Shoreland restoration of the Shell Rock River

Acquisition of this tract is consistent with a variety of conservation plans including the Minnesota Wildlife Acton Plan Tomorrow’s Habitat for the Wild and Rare: An Action Plan for Minnesota Wildlife, Minnesota.

Department of Natural Resources Long Range Duck Recovery Plan (2006), Minnesota’s Wildlife Management Area Acquisition – the Next 50 years – and Minnesota’s Aquatic Management Area.


© 2015 Shell Rock River Watershed District, 305 S 1st Avenue, Albert Lea, MN 56007