Crane Lake Township

Current Topics

Land Exchange Update – July 2009

Town of Crane Lake/US Forest Service

Land Exchange

Background in Brief

In 2000 citizens of the unorganized area of Crane Lake met and formed a Community Action Plan (CAP).  The plan was written by the citizens of Crane Lake and covered a five year plan for the future.  A list of wishes, by priority was developed.  Two of the important desires after the wish for a local form of government were more land for private use and a community center with green space.  As a result of this endeavor the Town of Crane Lake became a reality in 2002.  One of the first courses of action was response to a call from the US Forest Service (FS) with a proposal to enter into a land exchange. The FS does not buy/sell land but enters into exchanges.  At this time only 20% of the land within the Town boundaries was privately owned limiting the expansion of the Town’s tax base.  This proposal from the FS answered two requests of the town’s people which was more land for private ownership and property to build a community center/town hall.  The FS has strict regulations one of which the Town was to enter the exchange with two private individuals who had been working on an exchange.  Part of the land which the FS would acquire is the property in East Bay bordering the Boundary Waters and is very desirous to the FS.  The FS would exchange to the Town two Forties adjoiningHandberg Road running North and South for property which the Town purchased out of the town’s boundaries on the Vermilion River.  The Crane Lake Volunteer Fire Department (CLVFD) in housed on this property as well as the Frontier Telephone Company building.  It is expected the exchange will be completed in 2010.


Land Exchange Participants

To comply with FS requirements a Corporation was formed uniting the 3 participants as determined by the FS.  The FS deals only with the Corporation and not individuals. Butch Eggen owner of property in Buyck will exchange for property adjoining his home site, Bill Congdon will exchange his property in East Bay for property in the Gold Coast area.  The trail to the Gorge is on this property however an easement is signed allowing access to the trail protecting continued use for future generations and the Town of Crane Lake will exchange property which the town purchased on the Vermilion River for the land south of Handberg Road.  The Town has detailed plans for the acquired land and the other two participants will provide tentative general plans of their land use as part of the exchange process.  The entire land exchange maps and legal descriptions are available with the Town Clerk JoAnn Pohlman.

Purpose of Acquired Land

Eighty acres would be acquired by the Town in the exchange.  Land would be plotted for the CLVFD to become property owners for their Fire Station.  The land housing the telephone building would be sold to the phone company or continue to be leased on a rental basis.  A section of land will be set aside for a community building/town hall with green space for park activities.  Land would be divided into buildable lots for homes increasing the town’s tax base generating income to the Town.




There are expenses with the exchange as well as upgrading the trail system.  A fund was established (Community Project/Trails) in the Town’s budget projecting to cover expenses as they occur.  It was also necessary to purchase land to exchange for the land to be received.  Payment for the land was possible by a bank loan.  Payment for the loan of interest only is made from the Community Project account.  When the exchange is completed and the land is available for the town to sell, payment made for the lots will be used to pay down on the loan eventually satisfying the loan and providing income to the Town.


Town of Crane Lake Plan for Acquired Land

It was decided early in the exchange process that a professional plan for the land use be developed. To develop the plan a grant was received from the Northeast Minnesota Sustainable Development Partnership (NMSDP) in the amount of $30,000.  At no cost to the taxpayers the Center for Changing Landscapes a division of the University of Minnesota was contacted and by holding Town meetings for citizen input and on site visits by the University professionals a plan was developed for the town including the land to be received, a trails system and updating Gold Coast Road.  Primary interest of the university professionals was to establish a plan desired by and reflecting the wishes of the town’s citizens and not something outsiders designed.  This plan with diagrams and maps is available from the Town Clerk JoAnn Pohlman.


Benefits of the Land Exchange to Crane Lake Citizens

1.) The Town of Crane Lake will expand its tax base.  Not only the land received by the town and eventually sold to private individuals but the land received by the other two participants will immediately be on the tax rolls.

2.) Land housing the telephone building will be either sold to the Phone Company or continue to be leased generating income for the town.

3.) Legal building lots when sold will generate income for the town which benefits all the citizens of the community.

4.) Part of the land will be set aside for a town hall, community center, and green space for a playground and picnic area.  At this time public meetings are held at the Crane Lake Chapel which does not accommodate a large crowd. This is a long range plan and may not be achieved in the immediate future.

5.) Completion of the exchange will encourage growth expansion of the Crane Lake Water and Sanitary District.  This will improve waste disposal conditions and water quality in the area, as well as assist the sanitary district’s financial condition.

6.) Acquisition of the federal lands within the Town of Crane Lake is in accord with the wishes of the Town’s long range community action plan dated 2001

7.) This exchange is considered a win-win situation.


July 10, 2009

Prepared by:

Ruth L Carlson Phone – 218-993-2424

7514 Rocky Road        E-mail –

Crane Lake, MN