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State land on Lake Superior near Gitchi-Gami trail sells for $1.2M

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Gitchi-Gami State Trail
The Gitchi-Gami State Trail at Silver Creek Cliff, near Highway 61 north of Two Harbors, Minn.
Creative Commons/Flickr user Andrew Munsch

A 65-acre piece of state-owned land on Lake Superior's North Shore sold Wednesday to two individuals for $1.2 million during a public auction.

The DNR identified the purchasers as Robert Schachter and Karen Rylander.

The auction of school trust fund land marked the first time the property and many other state-owned land located along other lakes had been up for sale. Such sales had been prohibited unless approved by the legislature, but state lawmakers in 2012 opened the door for sales of school trust fund land along lake shores to boost funding for schools.

The land is located about 10 miles north of Silver Bay and includes 1,675 feet of lakeshore.

An advocacy group for parks and trails raised concerns about the Lake Superior parcel's sale, because some advocates had hoped a state trail would be built on the land. But the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said it preferred the Gitchi-Gami State Trail connection be built inland, on the other side of Highway 61, so no easement was placed on the property before it went on the auction block.

Lake Superior land sale irks Gitchi-Gami bike trail supporters

Brett Feldman, executive director of the Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota, said the sale was disappointing.

A northern Minnesota nonprofit group, the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland, Minn., bid on the property but could not bid any higher, executive director Peter Smerud said.

"We discussed it with our board and had to set a limit on how far we would go," Smerud said.

The center educates children about Lake Superior, but Smerud said it's difficult to get them to the lake. He said Wolf Ridge will continue looking for opportunities to buy property on Lake Superior.