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A family legacy of conservation

Because of a conservation easement with the Minnesota Land Trust and the work of the Ghei family to restore the natural habitat, 69 acres of land within Red Wing will remain in its natural state. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Land Trust

The City of Red Wing is renowned for its open and natural places, however as the municipality has grown, development has encroached on what was previously woodlands, agricultural fields and bluffs. But thanks to the Ghei family of Red Wing, 69 acres of land in the city will remain in its natural state.

Since 2001, Johanna Ghei and her three children have worked to restore the natural habitat that can now be found on their property, and now, with a conservation easement with the Minnesota Land Trust, this unique landscape is protected forever.

For Gita Ghei, protecting the land was more than just plants and wildlife — it was about a family legacy of conservation. The property has been in the family since 1956, when Gita's grandfather, John Anderson, purchased it with the express goal of protecting it from future development.

"After our grandfather passed, we thought it was important to keep the land natural; that's the way our grandparents would have wanted it," Gita said. "My mother was pretty clear about the importance of having wild spaces for migrating birds, as well as our concerns about development."

"This property helps add to a larger complex of protected lands around the City of Red Wing," said Nick Bancks, program manager with the Minnesota Land Trust. "This property abuts another protected property, and is within a few miles of 2,000 acres of state forest lands, four other land trust easements, and seven state-managed areas of public land. In total over 5,000 acres of public and privately-protected lands exist within two miles of the Ghei's land."

Protecting this property offers benefits for water because of the permanently protected stream that runs over the property and perennial vegetation that surrounds it. It plays an important role in filtering and storing water, enhancing both the water quality and recreational aesthetic of the lower Cannon River.

The Ghei family property is also important for its significant historical and cultural value as well. The surrounding area where the land is located once supported one of the largest Native American populations in the upper Midwest, with numerous villages established in the area between 1050 and 1300.

The permanent conservation easement was made possible by the members of the Minnesota Land Trust, with funding provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.

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