First Park Preserve Officially Coming to Isanti County

Today, Trust for Public Land (TPL) and Isanti County announced the protection of over 730-acres of vast grasslands, inviting forests, and over two miles of shoreline along Stanchfield Creek.

In 1964, Carol Urness first purchased 40 acres of beautiful wetlands, birch and tamarack forests in Maple Ridge Township, Isanti County to photograph wildlife and study botany. She slowly protected more land around this natural refuge and by 1980, she had acquired more than 700 adjoining acres.

TPL partnered with the Isanti County Parks Department to help make the dream of turning this space into the county’s first park preserve. Once open, the park will be an ultimate destination for hiking and wildlife enthusiasts to enjoy hiking, wildlife viewing, and access to Stanchfield Creek.

The property will stay true to its natural state, which will help prevent floods, preserve the water quality of the namesake creek, and contribute to vital carbon storage for generations to come. The property offers connection between the creek and the Wild and Scenic Rum River.

“As development continues to encroach on natural spaces, keeping unique and diverse landscapes like this free from buildout is important for our physical, mental, and environmental health,” said Sophie Harris Vorhoff, Minnesota State Director for Trust for Public Land. “We’re so grateful for Carol’s dedication and care in protecting this incredible space. Her efforts and willingness to ensure it will be accessible to the public for generations to come will benefit so many Minnesotans.”

Isanti County will manage the property going forward, which includes conversion of the former agricultural land into restored native prairie that will also help filter stormwater runoff.

“Permanent protection of this land has been a goal of Isanti County Parks for a number of years. Working with TPL throughout the acquisition helped make the process go smoothly for all parties involved,” stated Barry Wendorf, Isanti County Parks Director. “The Isanti County Parks & Recreation Commission will work to create rules and regulations for the Park Preserve going forward.”

Carol details the incredible flora and fauna of the space in her book, Critters, Creeks, Neighbors, and Woods: A Natural History of Isanti County, and writes, “the land provides a retreat and sanctuary for those who need a respite from too much noise and action.”

“I am beyond pleased with having Isanti County responsible for management of the property and being able to preserve this land from development forever,” Carol Urness stated.

Funding for this project came from a grant from the Minnesota DNR’s Natural and Scenic Area Program which in turn received funding from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. Carol Urness also generously donated a large portion of the land’s value.

About the Trust for Public Land

Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit that works to connect everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. As a leader in equitable access to the outdoors, TPL works with communities to create parks and protect public land where they are needed most. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 4 million acres of public land, created more than 5,364 parks, trails, schoolyards, and iconic outdoor places, raised $93 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected nearly 9.4 million people to the outdoors. To learn more, visit