Spring Lake regional park master plan open house Oct. 14

by Irene Jones

Spring Lake Park, a regional park and one of FMR's restoration sites, is home to many wild animals, like fisher, in need of habitat. (Photo by Josh More [CC]).

Extending along Mississippi River in Hastings, Nininger Township and Rosemount for several miles, Spring Lake regional park has stunning views of the river, miles of trails and expansive areas of natural open space, including steep forested bluffs down to the river and a native prairie restored by FMR with help from our volunteers. Approximately 94% of the park consists of natural and semi-natural vegetative cover, which provides critical Mississippi River habitat for birds and wildlife.

Monday, October 14, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Dakota County is hosting a public open house at the Schaar's Bluff Gathering Center to kick off the Spring Lake Park Reserve master plan update. The year-long process will set forth a long-range vision for the park, a 10-year plan to guide future park activities and capital investment, and a natural resource restoration and management plan.

Spring Lake Park trail
Spring Lake Regional Park is one of many local and regional parks within the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA), our national park on the Mississippi.

Park changes

Since the last master plan was completed for the park in 2003, the park has grown in size from 975 acres to 1,097 acres. Several key private parcels within the 1,200-acre regional park boundary have been acquired by Dakota County in recent years, enabling the completion of the Mississippi River Trail, as well as two trailheads that connect to other paved and unpaved trails through the park.

Other additions to the park are the Schaar's Bluff Gathering Center, the Camp Spring Lake Retreat Center, and associated facilities such as parking lots, picnic shelters, restrooms, play areas and even overnight campsites. These developments fit in well with the park and have created opportunities for people of all ages to enjoy the park's amenities.

So what's next for this special place on our great river?

FMR is eager to see this park planning effort reinforce the importance of preserving and restoring natural areas within the park while serving the needs and interests of the most people. We are also interested in the potential for improving water access to Spring Lake for paddlers and small watercraft.

Add your voice 

Whether you're a local and frequent park user, or just learning about this gem of a park, consider attending the upcoming open house to share your ideas and perspectives. Regional parks serve the entire metropolitan area, so it's ok if you don't live in Dakota County.

Look for me (Irene Jones) at the open house if you want to connect with FMR staff.

Can't make it? We will continue to post community engagement opportunities on our website and social media, or you can sign up for updates directly with Dakota County Parks.

And if you have questions or would like help submitting comments on the plan, feel free to contact me at ijones@fmr.org.

Hope to see you at Schaar's Bluff!

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