New wildlife management area created near Rochester

Thanks to a large land donation from a Minnesota family, a new wildlife management area is now open to the public near Rochester.

On Monday, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced the opening of the Moon Valley WMA, a 420-acre area fifteen minutes north of downtown Rochester. According to a press release from the MDNR, the land was acquired from the Moon family, hence the “Moon Valley” name. With support from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, The Nature Conservancy, and the Trust for Public Land, the MDNR said it was able to acquire the property. The Moon family had operated a farm for nearly a century in the area; however, Linda Moon said it was the family’s desire to see the property become preserved as a natural area.

“With urban spread, there are fewer and fewer wild and open spaces for people and wildlife to roam,” Moon said in the press release. “The Moon family hopes this can be a small refuge for our neighbors and for our family to come home to as well. It was our beautiful farm, and now it will return to its natural state open to everyone.”

The new WMA includes forest bluffs, springs, and a shoreline along the Middle Fork of the Zumbro River, which is now available for public viewing. Former cropland, which measures 200 acres, will become wetlands, prairie land and a floodplain forest. Outdoor recreation like hunting, fishing, hiking, and wildlife viewing will also be available to the public.

Sophie Vorhoff, Minnesota State Director for TPL, said management areas like Moon Valley are growing need in the area. She hopes the new area will help connect Minnesotans with nature.

“There is a growing need for publicly accessible outdoor spaces in southeastern Minnesota, and this nearly three miles of the Zumbro River will help connect thousands of residents and visitors with nature,” Vorhoff said.

For more information on the Moon Valley WMA CLICK HERE.