New Trail Links MN and WI Cities

Washington County, MN, 12/8/2005-The Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced that a two-mile stretch of an abandoned rail corridor along the Mississippi River will be transformed into a biking and pedestrian trail, connecting the fast-developing river cities of Hastings, Minnesota and Prescott, Wisconsin. The nonprofit land conservation group acquired the corridor earlier today and conveyed it to Washington County. The future trail is located at the confluence of the Mississippi and the St. Croix rivers-providing a unique opportunity for the public to experience the two nationally significant rivers-and will help complete part of the Mississippi River Trail, which is a National Millennium Trail.

The trail connects Point Douglas Park at the confluence with Minnesota’s Great River Road leading to the City of Hastings. Located at the eastern edge of the Twin Cities metropolitan region, the future trail will provide a vital connection in the regional trail system and into Wisconsin. It provides excellent views of the Mississippi River and of the valley’s Vermillion River Bottoms, home to many types of wildlife including bald eagles and red-shouldered hawks. The trail also passes through Point Douglas, one of the earliest settlements in Minnesota-dating back to 1839. The Metro Mississippi Trails and Open Space Partnership of the Metro Mississippi, which includes the National Park Service’s Mississippi National River Recreation Area, the Metropolitan Council, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and more than 35 other public and private organizations, has identified this trail as a priority in achieving the goal of creating a continuous 72-mile trail along the Mississippi River in the Twin Cities Metro area while protecting significant natural and cultural resources.

As a connector to the regional trail system, the benefits of the future trail extend to residents across a three-county region. Because the trail will offer benefits on a regional scale, the County was interested in finding outside financial resources to help fund the purchase. TPL was able to assist the County in raising funds through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Local Trails Program-with funding from the Minnesota Natural Resources Trust Fund-and through the Federal Transportation Equity Act-21 grant program. The two-mile corridor was acquired for just over $465,000. The McKnight Foundation has provided funds to support TPL’s conservation work throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan region.

“This scenic trail will provide important recreational opportunities for residents not only of Washington County, but also of the entire region,” said Washington County Parks Director Jim Luger. “We are pleased that TPL was able to secure an option to purchase this important land, and then help us investigate it and obtain funds to ultimately purchase it.”

“This future trail is important because it not only connect the communities of Hastings and Prescott, it will also attract metro-area residents who will experience a nearby, but not well known, ecosystem abundant in wildlife and natural beauty” said TPL project manager Bob McGillivray. “TPL is pleased to be a part of this project, from the fundraising effort to acquiring and conveying the land to Washington County.”

The Trust for Public Land 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 30,000 acres valued at more than $50 million including the recent protection of the 475-acre DNR AMA/WMA on the Vermillion River in Dakota County, the 3100 acre Brainerd Lakes Forest Legacy Conservation Easement, the Caponi Art Park in Eagan, an addition to the future Neenah Creek Regional Park in St. Cloud, and the creation of the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary in downtown St. Paul. TPL depends on contributions from supporters to continue protecting land throughout the state.