Native yellow sunflowers in a field

Sibley State Park

SIBLEY STATE PARK

prairie field
Prairie at Sibley State Park

About the park

Map of Mn with star at Sibley State Park

This popular west-central park has recreation opportunites for everyone. Hike up Mount Tom where you can climb the observation tower to see a patchwork of rolling fields and lakes. Summer visitors enjoy swimming, boating, and fishing on Lake Andrew. A canoe route invites adventurers to portage and canoe on Henschien Lake and Swan Lake.

Realizing that the area was a popular spot for more than the local people, the Legislature established Sibley as a state park in 1919. The park was named after Henry Hastings Sibley, Minnesota’s first governor and a complicated figure who at times defended Native Americans’ rights and at others facilitated the extreme injustices that reverberate today.

Our Work by the Numbers

6

Land Projects

completed or in progress for this park

188

Acres

of invaluable land saved

7

Percent

of park’s total acreage saved

481,500

Dollar Value

of land at time of acquisition

Park Map Showing Project Sites

Our Project Stories

Protecting lakeshore around Lake Andrew

fall trees around lakeshore
Lake Andrew (by Dick Clayton)

Project Years: 1999-2001

Project Acres: 2.5

This project involved two private landowners along Lake Andrew, the main lake in the park.

Project Partners

Ensuring Swan Lake's legacy

frozen lake at sunset
Sunset over the lake (by Gary Alan Nelson)

Project Years: 1993-1995

Project Acres: 17

Two private landowners held the last remaining private property along the southern leg of Swan Lake. The two projects were coordinated together. The land extends between Swan Lake and the much smaller Meadow Lake.

Restoring a prairie while making a vital trail connection possible

Project Years: 2014-2018

Project Acres: 154

This former farm alongside Hwy. 71 had been enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program, which pays a yearly rental payment in exchange for farmers removing environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and planting species that will improve environmental quality.

In 2014 we acquired the land knowing that it would serve a critical link for connecting the nearby Glacial Lakes State Trail into the park. Such a connection is vital for safely getting more people to experience all the benefits of outdoor recreation. The nearby town of New London even has a school that is located along the proposed trail connection.

Once we bought the land we knew we were accepting the challenge to clean it up and begin to restore the native prairie. Luckily we had an intrepid group of volunteers from the Sibley State Park Improvement Association who led the charge on the clean-up effort. They spent countless hours with their sleeves pulled up and filling dumpster upon dumpster of trash and coordinating contractors to bring in the large machinery needed to remove numerous decrepit buildings.

We have been continuing our advocacy efforts to secure the funding to complete the trail connection using this land and have been partnering to restore native plant communities onto this land.

Project Partners

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Securing the last private land along Lake 21

Four people in front of Lake 21
Friends and staff on land acquired on Lake 21
Semi truck loading house for removal
House being removed from land we acquired for the park
Lakeshore
View of lakeshore along Lake 21 on land we acquired
Three men putting trash in dumpster
Sibley State Park Improvement Association members cleaning up the land we're working to add to Sibley State Park
two people near decrepit shed
Volunteer Dave Lais discusses removing decrepit shed

Project Years: 2017-TBD (in progress)

Project Acres: 15.8

This project has been years in the making and shows how patience can pay off. Lake 21 may sound like a slightly unloved lake, but for retired park manager Dave Lais, who has been an active volunteer since retirement, this lake has long been a special place where he saw the potential for a completely natural lake experience—something quite rare in this part of the state.

He remembers discussions with the landowner years ago. At that time the landowner was scaling back operations on his minimal-frills resort along the lake. But alas, the sale didn’t work out then. Timing is critical in land deals and while there was a close call with a sale for high-end development, which would have precluded the potential to ever incorporate into the park, that didn’t happen either.

Eventually the children inherited the land and they had moved away so had little use for the land. Because Dave Lais had ensured that the owners know the park would be interested if ever they sold, he was the first to get a ring when it was time to sell.

However, with the park not in the position to buy at the moment, Dave Lais called on Parks & Trails Council to buy the land, which we did in 2017. Similar to the 154 acres we acquired for Sibley State Park in 2014, this land required some heavy lifting to remove all the buildings (3 dwellings were moved) and other structures (decrepit shed, silo, and outhouse were demolished). Once again, it was the hard work of the Sibley State Park Improvement Association’s volunteer members who tackled this part of the cleanup.

As this was the last piece of private property along the lake, a whole new potential is opened up for a trail to circle the lake. The group campsite is located along this lake and now these campers have a completely unobstructed view of this beautiful lake.

Project Partner

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