Gale Woods Farm in Minnetrista secured a necessary vote of approval for a likely 31-acre boundary expansion that could also aid Three Rivers Park District in future completion of its Baker-Carver Regional Trail.

Minnetrista city council members backed the boundary adjustment—a combination of private land sale and donations—by a 5-0 vote Feb. 1. Minnesota statute requires the city’s approval for park district land acquisitions, even when that land is held privately.

The purchase would benefit the district, which operates Gale Woods, by helping protect existing parkland because its ownership of the land would prevent either a current or future third party from petitioning for access, which may disrupt “the operations of the working farm and natural areas or adjacent Dakota Rail Regional Trail,” according to a memo prepared by Minnetrista’s planning and development staff and sent to council members ahead of the Feb. 1 meeting. A separate media inquiry to Three Rivers about the acquisition was unanswered by press time.

This would be the first time since the initial donation of 410 acres by Alfred and Leona Gale in 1999 and 2000 that the farm has expanded its boundaries.

The boundary adjustment includes 28 acres of privately owned land just north of Saunders Lake and off the Dakota Rail Trail. Land swaps on the north end of the park with the Boys and Girls Club will add an additional acre while just under 2.5 acres of land already owned by Three Rivers will be brought into the Gale Woods Farm boundary.

The acquisition and boundary amendment is centered on preservation, rather than on development. “Ownership and inclusion of the [acquired] properties within the boundary helps ensure that these natural areas, in whole, will be protected and consistently managed as one ecosystem unit,” according to supporting information given to city officials by Three Rivers last fall.

Three Rivers did indicate, however, that the boundary expansion would allow for the “potential securing of associated Baker-Carver Regional Trail land.”

The proposed 17-mile Baker-Carver Trail connecting the Baker and Carver park preserves was approved in June 2015 with expected completion sometime this fall. When completed, the trail will connect the Lake Minnetonka LRT, Dakota Rail and Lake Independence regional trails as well as the Luce Line State Trail, Kingswood Special Recreation Feature and Gale Woods Farm.

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