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Lakeshore wilderness protected

DULUTH -- Nearly 1,000 acres of private land along the hills overlooking Lake Superior near Two Harbors, Minn., will remain undeveloped thanks to a land conservation deal announced Monday. A conservation easement has been brokered for the land in Lake County that includes old growth pine and cedar forests and more than 12,000 feet of shoreline along the Encampment and Crow Rivers.

The deal also preserves access for hikers on the Lake Superior Hiking Trail that runs through the property, including segments that overlook Lake Superior.

The land will remain owned by Two Harbors businessmen Butch and Milt Wittlief, and they will continue to pay taxes on the land, but they permanently have sold the rights to develop the property.

The deal was considered even more environmentally valuable because the Wittlief land is just north of another 500-acre conservation easement held by the Nature Conservancy. Meanwhile, a 90-acre conservation easement to the southwest is held by the Minnesota Land Trust. And the State of Minnesota manages forest land to the east.