80-year-old error in land records wipes out popular Minnesota trail

An 80-year-old clerical error has wiped out minnesota’s ownership of a popular area used for hiking, cross-country skiing and boat access to Rainy Lake near International Falls.

When the Polar Polers, a local ski club, recently began planning to enhance the Tilson Bay recreational area by building a boardwalk across a tamarack bog, they found a surprise when they checked the property records: The state had sold the land in 1935.

But whoever recorded the sale for Koochiching County back then failed to note the new owner in land records. And the buyer, a prominent International Falls businessman, apparently lost track of the purchase amid all his wheeling and dealing.

“It never occurred to anyone that this wasn’t state land,” said Matt Wappler, a forest manager with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Over the years, the state opened the land for hiking and cross-country skiing and built public boat access to Rainy Lake.

Michael Jaksa, a local attorney said the new owner “is a nice person” who “has basically agreed to gift the area south of the highway to the state, which clears up any ski trail issue, and also opens up the probability of the boardwalk.”

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