The long and sometimes contentious northern Minnesota "Con-Con" saga drew to a close this past spring as the Legislature voted to designate the final 102,315 acres of the total 1.9 million acres of Consolidated Conservation lands in northern Minnesota as wildlife management areas. "The designation will be a significant contribution to conservation in Minnesota," said DNR Wildlife director Tim Bremicker, "and will be deeply appreciated by hunters, wildlife watchers, and conservationists of all types."
It hasnt been an easy issue to resolve, according to Steve Morse, DNR deputy commissioner. "After 70-plus years, we are glad to finally put this issue to rest," Morse said.
The bill gave formal designation to the lands classified as wildlife lands by then—DNR commissioner Joseph Alexander in 1991. In 1999 the Minnesota Attorney Generals office determined that only the Legislature, not the DNR, could designate these lands as WMAs.
While the bill designates these lands (located in Beltrami, Roseau, and Marshall counties) as WMAs, it also mandates that the DNR work with motorized and nonmotorized recreational user groups to establish a total of 90 miles of all-terrain vehicle access trails on, or contiguous to, WMAs on Con-Con lands.