Our largest land project in over ten years has just added 159 acres to Frontenac State Park, and it comes with a blufftop view you won’t want to miss. Frontenac is already known for awe-inspiring blufftop views of Lake Pepin. But, this addition at the southwest border brings a new perspective with bluffs overlooking the Pleasant Valley Lakelet and Creek in one direction and the scenic hills of the park entrance in the other.
Spanning the 159 acres, visitors will experience a variety of landscapes: oak savanna, grasslands, and a creek bustling with wildlife. Years ago the lands was a used for pasturing cows, then bison, but eventually began to accumulate old tires and other odds and ends. It is now restored with native prairie plants and the park will continue this restoration. With less than two percent of Minnesota’s once sprawling prairielands remaining, this land, in the stewardship of the park staff, is a critical piece of rare habitat.
P&TC spearheaded this project in 2015 when P&TC’s then-president, Mike Tegeder, learned that the private landowners had an interest in selling. He walked the land and knew immediately that P&TC must play a role in protecting this land for the park. After months of negotiations and due diligence, P&TC bought the land in April 2017.
With ownership secured, a major hurdle remained—expanding the park’s legislatively authorized boundary. This would require an act from the Legislature, which was far from certain.
“I encourage all state park lovers to experience the spectacular views from the bluff,” said P&TC’s executive director Brett Feldman. “I promise that once you do you will understand exactly why we went out on a limb to purchase this special place despite not having any assurance that the Legislature would allow us to add it to the park.”
In 2018, the boundary was expanded thanks to a bill authored by local legislators Sen. Mike Goggin and Rep. Barb Haley. Strong community support from the volunteer-based Frontenac State Park Association (FSPA) proved important to its passage.
“Part of the association’s mission is to reestablish native prairie and this land adds more of that to the park,” says FSPA president Brian Schrieber. “Plus, anyone who visits will want to take in the unique views—they add a lot to the property.”
On June 25, 2020, P&TC officially transferred ownership to the park. Plans are being developed for its full integration into the park and public access.
During the three years P&TC owned the land, restoration work continued. A local volunteer installed numerous bluebird houses and removed invasive plants as well as old fencing. Plus, hiking paths were mowed to give access to the scenic overlooks that allow visitors to see the landscape spread out over three directions.
Thanks to member support, P&TC played a pivotal role in adding this special place to the park. It builds on the two previous acquisitions P&TC has helped make possible at Frontenac State Park, to be enjoyed for generations.