31 Acres to be Added to St. Cloud Park (MN)

St. Cloud, MN, 9/13/2005 — The Trust for Public Land (TPL) tonight praised the City of St. Cloud and the Natural Parks and Trails Coalition of St. Cloud for their efforts to protect an important local natural resource. The St. Cloud city council voted to approve the purchase of a 31-acre site as an addition to Neenah Creek Regional Park. TPL secured the site from a private landowner; the City will now acquire the property from TPL. The acquisition is a milestone for an initiative set forth nearly a decade ago to identify and preserve St. Cloud’s most important natural resources.

In 1997 the City of St. Cloud began the initiative to inventory the natural resources in the city and surrounding area to eventually establish a comprehensive natural resources protection plan. With help from the Natural Parks and Trails Coalition of St. Cloud (NPTC), a local citizens group, the City developed goals and policies for local environmental protection projects. A local option sales tax was passed by referendum in the fall of 2000, which provided support for the purchase of some of these environmentally significant lands.

Using the City’s natural resources inventory and the Minnesota County Biological Survey–a mayoral task force–chose this 31-acre site as a high priority for acquisition because of its unique features, which include a high quality oak forest, wetlands, and granite outcroppings. With encouragement from the NPTC, the City invited TPL to secure the property for purchase. Together, TPL and the City then applied for and received a grant from the State of Minnesota’s Remediation Fund Grant Program to help leverage the City’s local option sales tax dollars for this purchase. The award was for the largest amount possible under the program.

“If not for the leadership within the City and the group of dedicated citizens who have rallied over the last eight years to build support and create local funding for this work, we would not have the opportunity tonight to protect this land for St. Cloud,” said TPL Field Representative Becca Nash. “Conserving land for people is what TPL is all about and we are so pleased to be a partner in this project.”

The property is located adjacent to the undeveloped 213-acre Neenah Creek Regional Park. The City Council’s approval of the purchase tonight ensures the rare oak forest will be preserved and available for the citizens of the fast growing St. Cloud region to enjoy.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national, nonprofit land-conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Established in 1972, TPL is the only national nonprofit working exclusively to protect land for public enjoyment and use. In Minnesota, TPL has protected more than 27,500 acres valued at more than $46 million, including over 330 acres of land for the Quarry Park and Nature Preserve in Stearns County. TPL depends on contributions from supporters to continue protecting land throughout the state. Visit TPL on the web at www.tpl.org