This project has been years in the making and shows how patience can pay off. Lake 21 may sound like a slightly unloved lake, but for retired park manager Dave Lais, who has been an active volunteer since retirement, this lake has long been a special place where he saw the potential for a completely natural lake experience—something quite rare in this part of the state.
He remembers discussions with the landowner years ago. At that time the landowner was scaling back operations on his minimal-frills resort along the lake. But alas, the sale didn’t work out then. Timing is critical in land deals and while there was a close call with a sale for high-end development, which would have precluded the potential to ever incorporate into the park, that didn’t happen either.
Eventually the children inherited the land and they had moved away so had little use for the land. Because Dave Lais had ensured that the owners know the park would be interested if ever they sold, he was the first to get a ring when it was time to sell.
However, with the park not in the position to buy at the moment, Dave Lais called on Parks & Trails Council to buy the land, which we did in 2017. Similar to the 154 acres we acquired for Sibley State Park in 2014, this land required some heavy lifting to remove all the buildings (3 dwellings were moved) and other structures (decrepit shed, silo, and outhouse were demolished). Once again, it was the hard work of the Sibley State Park Improvement Association’s volunteer members who tackled this part of the cleanup.
As this was the last piece of private property along the lake, a whole new potential is opened up for a trail to circle the lake. The group campsite is located along this lake and now these campers have a completely unobstructed view of this beautiful lake.