A new environmental learning center at Watergate Marina?

A conceptual drawing of the Environmental Learning Center and National Park Service Headquarters. Buildings would be scaled to minimize the impact on the site.

If all goes well at the state Capitol this session, the City of Saint Paul could begin designing a new environmental learning center on the river at Watergate Marina as early as July.

Part of the city’s 2013 Great River Passage Master Plan, the concept includes a river-focused environmental center that could combine a National Park Service Headquarters and Visitor Center with year-round environmental learning and outdoor recreation experiences, scientific research, a community café and marina.

Map showing potential new center at Crosby Park just downstream from Hidden Falls.

The center, indicated by the dashed square, would be between two regional parks and across the river from Fort Snelling State Park.

Located at Watergate Marina, the site is situated between two beloved riverfront parks, Hidden Falls Regional Park to the north and Crosby Farm Regional Park to the south. Together, these parks feature more than four miles of river shoreline, two lakes and several distinct habitat zones including floodplain forest, wetlands, towering sandstone bluffs, ravines and waterfalls.

This Legislative session FMR is leading the effort to include the Environmental Learning Center in the 2018 bonding bill. The $3 million request would fund community engagement, design development, environmental review and permitting. In addition to the City of St. Paul, supporting organizations include Mississippi Park Connection, Wilderness Inquiry and Capitol Region Watershed District.

You can help

FMR River Guardians will be the first to know about opportunities to help advance this legislation this session. If you're not one already, we encourage you to sign up and be sure to check the box and let us know you’re interested in local issues.

River Guardians are also invited to special events, including happy hours, where we discuss important legislative and metro river corridor issues.