On Oct. 31, two years after being the highest bidder during a live auction, Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota (P&TC) assumed ownership of an 80-year-old former Boy Scout camp on the wooded shores of Lake Shetek in southwest Minnesota. Patience and diligence proved essential in this deal, which ultimately protected the land from being subdivided into five private estates.
This land is well worth the wait. Since the early 1940s, it has been an outdoor learning place for the scouting group, which hosted 5,000 scouts annually. The natural, park-like grounds encompass the tip of a peninsula jutting into Lake Shetek. The quiet shoreline is dotted with old-growth trees. It doesn’t take much to imagine park users enjoying picnic grounds, trails, and camping on these shores.
This land also holds an opportunity to tell a fuller story about the region’s Native American history. Before European settlers arrived in Minnesota, this land was part of the Dakota homeland. According to park manager Roseann Schauer, past archeological digs nearby have revealed Dakota artifacts. Lake Shetek State Park is a significant site in the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 due to the dramatic events that unfolded here. The park has several displays and a restored settler cabin to interpret this history, mainly from the white settlers’ perspective.
P&TC will hold this land in trust until the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources adds it to Lake Shetek State Park. This transfer’s timing depends on the MnDNR securing funding from the Minnesota Legislature. This process will likely take several years. In the meantime, we are working closely with the park staff to maintain the property in line with park protocols.
Parks & Trails Council’s ability to protect this land from certain development was made possible by the revolving Samuel H Morgan Land Fund, which is funded through private donations. Help support future land purchases like the one at Lake Shetek State Park by donating today.