In May 2008, protection of the Butler Trust property became a reality. The 816 acres, acquired and managed by Dakota County, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the University of Minnesota is part of a 4,000-acre natural area complex in central Dakota County.
The Butler Trust property provides the connection between the 475-acre Vermillion River Aquatic and Wildlife Management Area (AWMA) and the 2,840-acre Vermillion Highlands Research, Recreation and Wildlife Management Area. Of the total 816 acres, the southern 360 acres was acquired by Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for an expansion of the adjacent Wildlife Management Area. The northern 456 acres became a new Whitetail Woods Regional Park.
The combination of the three properties and joint ownership and management by the University of Minnesota, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and County resulted in one of the largest managed natural area complexes in the metropolitan region.
The Butler Trust property was identified over 20 years ago as a natural area or park worthy of public protection because of its rolling topography, high-quality forests and wetlands. The property also contains expansive grasslands and a small lake.
The total purchase price of the Butler Trust property was $14.81 million. Funding for the property was provided through a variety of sources, including the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, a Metropolitan Council grant, the Dakota County Farmland and Natural Area Program, a Minnesota legislative bonding bill, and additional Dakota County funds.