Conversion of Land and Water Conservation Fund Lands and Lower Sioux Agency History Center

National Park Service Issues FONSI for Proposed Lower Sioux Agency History Center Land Conversion

The National Park Service (NPS) has issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Lower Sioux Environmental Assessment (Environmental Assessment).  

The FONSI allows for the NPS, in partnership with the Minnesota Historical Society and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Parks and Trails, to proceed with removing the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund designation from portions of the Lower Sioux Agency History Center. The site is located along County State Highway 2 in Redwood County, Minnesota.

The selected action supports enrolling the land in trust and eventually conveying portions of the Lower Sioux Agency History Center to the Lower Sioux. The Minnesota Legislature authorized this conveyance in 2017. The FONSI establishes that, based on the Environmental Assessment, there would be no significant impact on the environment as a result of the selected action. 

The Environmental Assessment laid out the actions that will continue the partnership between the Lower Sioux and the Minnesota Historical Society, enabling both to remain actively engaged in preservation, interpretation, and community outreach of the Lower Sioux Agency History Center. This will allow the site to be open to the public.

The Environmental Assessment evaluated three other alternatives. The document was made available for public review and comment from January 9, 2020 to February 10, 2020. 

Environmental Assessment

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) proposes to remove the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) designation from the Lower Sioux Agency History Center (Lower Sioux Agency). The Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) will convey portions of the Lower Sioux Agency to the Lower Sioux Indian Community (LSIC). LWCF status needs to be removed in order for the LSIC to enroll the land in trust. The site is located along County State Aid Highway 2 in Redwood County, Minnesota. The DNR is coordinating this process on behalf of the Minnesota Historical Society. The transfer of the Lower Sioux Agency was authorized by the Minnesota Legislature and signed into law in 2017 (Minn. Law 2017, Ch. 54 § 23).

Section 6(f)(3) of the LWCF Act states that no property acquired or developed with assistance under this program shall, without the approval of the Secretary of the Department of the Interior, be converted to non-outdoor recreation uses. In accordance with LWCF Act conversion requirements, the DNR intends to submit an application to the National Park Service for the conversion of 125.46 acres of park land.

Response to comments on environmental assessment

The DNR has issued the Response to Comments (RTC) which contains the department’s responses to all substantive written comments received on the Environmental Assessment during the 30-day public review and comment period.

Next steps

The DNR Parks and Trails (PAT) Division will submit the EA, all attachments and figures, RTC, and other documentation required, to the National Park Service (NPS) for its review of the proposed removal of LWCF status from the identified park lands. The NPS will review the documentation sent by DNR PAT and issue a finding.

Past work

Environmental assessment (EA)

The DNR prepared an EA for the project. A 30-day public review and comment period was held from January 09, 2020 until 4:30 p.m., February 10, 2020.