Donation Helps Protect MN Bluffland

INVER GROVE HEIGHTS, MN, 12/15/2003:??The Trust for Public Land and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Scientific and Natural Areas (SNA) Program and Metro Greenways Program announced the acquisition of a critical Mississippi River overlook as part of the Pine Bends Bluff Scientific and Natural Area in Inver Grove Heights. Critical funding was provided by Mary Lee Dayton in honor of her late husband Wallace Dayton, a longtime supporter of the Minnesota Scientific and Natural Areas program, and Ruth and Bruce Dayton.

Located in one of the fastest growing counties in Minnesota and the Midwest, the Pine Bend Bluffs SNA provides a rare oasis for wildlife and people alike. The acquisition of this 17-acre property, with its 660 feet of river frontage and elevated bluff, protects some of the signature views of the Mississippi River Valley that draw people to this place, while introducing them to natural landscapes that dominate the area, including remnant prairie, dry oak and white pine-hardwood forest. Today, more than 300 species of birds depend on the Mississippi flyway for spring and fall migrations. The protection of this land as part of the larger 1300-acre Pine Bend Bluffs landscape will help to ensure the health of these migratory routes while providing people of the Twin Cities with an exceptional natural area only minutes from the heart of the metropolitan region.

Wallace Dayton was one of the early fathers and supporters of the Scientific and Natural Areas Program and served on its advisory committee. “When the opportunity to protect this incredible spot came to us, we couldn’t turn it down,” said Dayton’s widow, Mary Lee. “Wally was a strong believer in setting aside the unique natural areas for the next generation to study and learn from. As part of the Mississippi Flyway, this bluff top property will be visited by thousands of migrating birds each year.”

“It is vital to the overall environmental health of the Twin Cities that we protect special parcels of land like this for conservation,” added Bruce Dayton. “Pine Bend is a splendid natural area and Ruth and I are thrilled to know that it will remain undisturbed and protected.”

As a SNA the site represents something that’s becoming increasingly rare, an example of relatively undisturbed presettlement forest and prairie habitat, said the DNR’s SNA program manager, Bob Djupstrom. SNAs are provided the highest level of state protection and are open to the public for passive activities such as birding, wildlife watching, viewing wildflowers, hiking, education and scientific research.

“Dakota County has experienced rapid growth in recent years,” added Susan Schmidt, Minnesota State Director of the Trust for Public Land. “We have been fortunate to protect some of the rare sites in the county before they are changed forever. The support of the Daytons and the commitment by the Minnesota Scientific and Natural Area Program and Metro Greenways Program made it possible for TPL to act quickly to save this spot.”

The Trust for Public Land negotiated and acquired the land from private landowners who wished to see the land left undisturbed and kept intact. Critical lead funding was provided by the Dayton’s and the DNR’s SNA program and Metro Greenways Program. DNR funds were provided primarily through the Metro Wildlife Corridors from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended for funding by the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources. Lottery proceeds are the source of funding for the Minnesota and Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. The McKnight Foundation helped support TPL’s protection work.

Further parcels of significant habitat may be added to the SNA pending the availability of funds and willing landowners. In recent years, a number of organizations, including TPL, the DNR, and Friends of the Mississippi River, have been working to protect land along Pine Bend Bluffs to restore natural communities and enhance the area’s ecological values. Last fall, the Pine Bend Bluffs area was identified as one of the Twin Cities’ 10 natural treasures as part of the McKnight Foundation’s Embrace Open Space campaign, a multi-pronged effort to encourage citizens to choose to conserve natural areas in the face of the region’s rapid growth.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL), established in 1972, is a national nonprofit land conservation organization specializing in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law, to conserve land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Across the nation, TPL has helped protect more than 1.6 million acres. In Minnesota, TPL has protected more than 25,000 acres. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For more information about TPL visit

The DNR’s first Scientific and Natural Areas (SNA) was established in 1974. The SNA Program’s goal is designed to conserve and manage multiple examples of state significant lands and waters for rare plant and animal species, natural communities and geological features in a system of nature reserves that embrace all of Minnesota’ s natural diversity. Today 138 state natural areas provide opportunities for Minnesotan’s to visit lands that resemble or look as they did at the time of the arrival of the first Europeans. They offer unparalleled opportunities for research into the past and the future while serving as outdoor classrooms for education and critical habitat for our rarest features.