Coldwater Spring to Become Parkland

by Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio, December 14, 2009


St. Paul, Minn. — A former federal research site along the Mississippi River that contains a 10,000-year-old natural spring will be opened to the public as parkland, the National Park Service announced Monday.


The former Bureau of Mines site is on 27 acres along the Mississippi River between Minnehaha Park and Fort Snelling State Park. The area includes Coldwater Spring, a resource that many American Indians still consider sacred.


The site has 11 vacant buildings, many of which have fallen into disrepair.


As part of a final Environmental Impact Statement, the National Park Service recommends demolishing the buildings to make way for native prairie, oak trees and trails for people to enjoy nature and learn about the site’s history, said Alan Robbins-Fenger, a planning and land use specialist with the park service.


“It allows the public full access to the site,” he said of the recommendation.


It isn’t yet clear how soon the buildings could be taken down and roads removed.


Aerial view of Camp Coldwater

The environmental study will become official in about 30 days, which is when the National Park Service will announce what agency will manage the site. Then, officials would request federal funding for the demolition of the buildings and restoration of the site, Robbins-Fenger said.


During the planning process, which has taken several years, there were discussions about having the land become part of Minnehaha Park or Fort Snelling State Park. But the city and state weren’t interested in taking on the additional expense, so the site will likely continue to be managed by the federal government.


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