U seeks to enhance its Rosemount land use

Three thousand acres are used for crop and livestock research, and 4,500 acres are leased to private companies for research projects.

Tricia Michel

The University hopes a new trail and other developments can open a piece of its land in Rosemount, Minn., to more student and community use.

“We feel like it’s a great resource that hasn’t been utilized in the past,” said Phil Larsen, College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences dean.

“It represents an increased emphasis to make this place the best possible resource to serve the University,” he said of the 7,500-acre Outreach, Research and Education Park.

The U.S. Army bought 12,000 acres of Rosemount land from farmers during World War II to build gunpowder factories. After the war, the Army sold what it could back to farmers and donated the rest to the University, Larsen said.

The University has zoned the land for two uses. Three thousand acres are used for crop and livestock research, and 4,500 acres are leased to private companies for research projects, Larsen said.

Larsen said the University wants to maintain 3,000 acres for research and build conference centers for outreach programs on the remaining 4,500 acres.

The goal, he said, is to have space for faculty research and community recreation.

The University recently completed a 10.5-mile recreational trail that is open to the community for hiking, horseback riding and cross-country skiing.

Plans for new on-site conference facilities will go forward as soon as possible but could be held up by endangered species regulations – the plot is home to rare species of bird and turtle.

The park is funded by the Legislature and profits earned from leased contracts. The University also supports the park from the on-site research projects. Many of the agricultural projects produce food that is sold for a profit.

Some upcoming projects include a community design study and research on the use of hydrogen to power houses, cars and equipment, said College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture Dean Thomas Fisher.