Historic “Review” Islands Protected

Island home of legendary conservationist Ernest Oberholtzer to remain undeveloped

The Review Islands on Rainy Lake. Photo courtesy Jean Replinger and the Oberholtzer Foundation.
The Review Islands on Rainy Lake. Photo courtesy Jean Replinger and the Oberholtzer Foundation.

Last September the Minnesota Land Trust and the Ernest C. Oberholtzer Foundation announced the permanent protection of the Review Islands – the Rainy Lake home of conservationist Ernest C. Oberholtzer. Ernest Oberholtzer was a central figure in the wilderness protection of the international border lakes region that today includes Voyageurs National Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. “Ober,” as he was called, lived on one of the “Review Islands,” Mallard Island, for 50 years where he constructed a series of buildings using native materials that blended with the landscape.

The four Review Islands comprise 18 acres and approximately 10,000 feet of shoreline. All four islands are now protected by a permanent conservation easement held by the Minnesota Land Trust. Funding for the project consisted entirely of private donations from members of the Minnesota Land Trust, the Rainy Lake Conservancy and the Ernest C. Oberholtzer Foundation.

Beth Waterhouse, executive director of the Oberholtzer Foundation notes that although there were some protections already in place, “we wanted to make a statement to future boards of directors, to the state and the community about the importance of what Ober called ‘the university of the wilderness.’”

The Review Islands will remain under the ownership of the Ernest C. Oberholtzer Foundation, which continues to conduct its mission-based programs. The Minnesota Land Trust will visit the Review Islands annually to ensure that the terms of the easement remain intact.


This article appeared in Wilderness News Fall 2008

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