2017 project site atop bluff

Frontenac State Park

FRONTENAC STATE PARK

forested foreground with Lake Pepin center
View of Lake Pepin from Frontenac State Park

About the park

Since the turn of the century, Frontenac has had a reputation for great birdwatching. Some 260 species of birds have been seen here, many migrating via the Mississippi flyway. There is a rich diversity of natural communities and landscapes: bluffs, prairie, floodplain forests, and hardwood forest.

Archeological excavations at Frontenac in 1976 uncovered artifacts from the Hopewellian culture dating from 400 B.C. to 300 A.D. Some sites were burial grounds; some were living areas. Research also shows that the Dakota and Fox Indians hunted and fished on the shores of Lake Pepin.

Our Work by the Numbers

3

LAND PROJECTS
completed or
in progress here

897

ACRES
of invaluable
land saved

12

PERCENT
of the parks' total
acreage saved by us

1,496,750

DOLLAR VALUE
of land at time
of acquisition

Park Map Showing Project Sites

Our Project Stories

Preserving a majestic view for Frontenac

Project Years: 2017-TBD (in progress)

Project Acres: 159

At the border of Frontenac State Park, near it’s entrance, lays land that holds outstanding natural beauty and a view to behold. In 2017 the owner put the land up for sale, thus presenting a small window of opportunity to protect this land for future generations to enjoy as part of the park. We began discussions right away, knowing that if the landowner sold to a private entity that would likely put an end to any future use as parkland, perhaps forever. This land holds a bluff overlooking the Pleasant Valley Creek and Lakelet as well as restored prairie and oak savanna lands.

While the beauty and location of this land makes it a natural addition for the park, it is currently outside the statutory boundary of the park. As such Parks & Trails Council is dedicated to leading the effort to incorporate this land into the boundary and park ownership.

Project Partner

Frontenac State Park Association

Protecting the creek

Project Year: 2008

Project Acres: 100 along creek

Nestled next to Frontenac State Park was the longstanding Villa Maria Academy. It was a catholic high school for girls run by the sisters of Ursuline from 1891 – 1969, until a fire caused the school operations to close. It continued to operate as a retreat center with its iconic medieval buildings set among the beauty of Frontenac.

In 2008 the sisters decided to sell about 100 acres of land on their property that abutted the state park. Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota made the acquisition and worked with the DNR to incorporate it into the park that same year. The land includes portions of the creek that runs into Lake Pepin as well as land that abutted the three-quarters of a mile park trail leading to Lake Pepin. In 2017 the Villa Maria Academy put the remaining property and buildings up for sale.

Preserving a future vision

Project Years: 2001-2002

Project Acres: 38.5 on bluffs rimming Lake Pepin

This parcel was an inholding along the northwestern bluff in Frontenac State Park. This area of the park, which is undeveloped and essentially inaccessible, provides critical habitat for wildlife. The urgency to act to protect this stretch became clear when nearby land was being sold for well over appraised values and other parcels were being divided, leaving the state unable to compete for their acquisitions. Today, while this area is unconnected from the main area of the park, it adds to the potential for a long-term vision of a contiguous stretch of land along this scenic bluff.

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