Twin Cities Metro Area Tract Saved As Open Space

A 550-acre tract has been permanently protected for a new conservation area in northwest Anoka County, The Trust for Public Land and Anoka County officials announced today. Situated at the confluence of the Rum River and Cedar Creek, the property is one of the largest undeveloped tracts in one of the fastest growing parts of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Anoka County will make the land available to Minnesotans for hunting, fishing, and wildlife observation.

“This new conservation area will be a legacy for generations to come, providing access to some of the most pristine and diverse wildlife lands in the entire metropolitan area,” said Dennis Berg, chair, Anoka County Board of Commissioners.

The future Cedar Creek Conservation Area is situated across the Rum River from the existing 434-acre Rum River Central Regional Park and has 3/4 of a mile of shoreline on the river as well as 1.5 miles of shoreline on Cedar Creek. The river is an important fishery and a component of the Minnesota’s Wild and Scenic River System.

The newly preserved land has woodlands, wetlands, and prairie, and Anoka County plans unpaved trails and a fishing dock and will restore nearly 200 acres of the property to its native prairie habitat. The conservation area will be open to the public following the restoration of prairie habitat and the development of parking areas and access trails.

County efforts to purchase the land from developers were accelerated a year ago, when The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national conservation organization, was asked to negotiate with the landowners, a group of Twin Cities developers. TPL was able to reach a two-phase purchase agreement for the 550-acre property. The first phase, a purchase of 212 acres, was completed in March of this year. The remaining 338 acres were purchased today.

“We’re glad we were able to find a way to bring everyone together to get this deal done,” said Bob McGillivray, TPL senior project manager. “TPL’s mission is to conserve natural areas like Cedar Creek for people to enjoy, and this is a terrific example of providing metropolitan residents with access to hunting and fishing close to home.”

Anoka County will own and manage the land, and the $4.5 million purchase was largely made with funding awarded by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council from the Outdoor Heritage Fund. This fund is part of the ballot measure approved by Minnesota voters in 2008 that dedicates 0.375 percent of state sales tax to preserve Minnesota’s water, land, and arts heritage. Additional funding was provided by Anoka County and Minnesota’s Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.

“The purchase of the new conservation area was a model of cooperation,” said John VonDeLinde, Anoka County Director of Parks and Recreation. “The State of Minnesota, The Trust for Public Land, cities of Oak Grove and Andover, the landowner, and Anoka County all worked very diligently to complete this significant conservation land purchase.”

Anoka County is part of the seven-county Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area and has a population of more than 330,000 people. The word ‘Anoka’ is derived from the native Dakota word anokatanhan meaning “on both sides” referring to the Rum River which flows through the heart of the county. Anoka County owns and operates a park and open space system of more than 10,000 acres.

The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. Since 1986, TPL has helped protect more than 87,000 acres of some of Minnesota’s most special land and water resources. TPL depends on the support of individuals, corporations, and foundations.