• 21°

Hormel Nature Center to expand

The Jay C. Hormel Nature Center is going to be getting a little bigger.

Pending some final paperwork that needs to be signed, the center will officially be acquiring roughly 147 acres of land to the north of where the water tower sits on Nov. 1.

Larry Dolphin, the center’s director, said the sale was actually made in 2004, but the seller was allowed to farm it through this year. The center used grant funding for the purchase, including some money that came in from the Hormel Foundation.

While the land will be for the center to use, it will probably remain trail-less in the short term. That’s because 96.9 acres of the land is currently protected under the federal Conservation Reserve Program, which mandates that the land remains in a native prairie cover as a way to combat erosion.

When the CRP agreement runs out, which is scheduled to happen by 2016, Dolphin said he’d like to see this nearly 100-acre piece of the land get trails and be incorporated into the center as a whole. In the meantime, Dolphin said he and staff will be able to add more prairie grass and wildflower diversity in the area.

Not counting the 147 acres being added on, the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center has 360 acres.