Pine Bend Bluffs Natural Area expands! 150 additional acres permanently protected.

After years of work, Pine Bend Bluffs Natural Area recently expanded from 314 to 464 permanently protected acres!

June 26th, in partnership with Dakota County and FMR, Macalester College placed a conservation easement on the Katharine Ordway Natural History Study Area, adjacent to the State-owned Pine Bend Bluffs Scientific & Natural Area along the Mississippi River in Inver Grove Heights.

An additional 150 acres of native prairie, oak savanna, oak woodland, floodplain forest and wetlands are now permanently protected.

Photo: Jerald Dosch

The study area, KONSHA, serves as Macalesters educational field station. It features native prairie, oak savanna, oak woodland, floodplain forest and wetlands, and serves as the northern boundary of the larger Pine Bend Bluffs Natural Area — 1,300 acres of beautiful bluffs dissected by numerous ravines, home to stunning views of the river as well as critical wildlife habitat in a rapidly developing portion of Dakota County.

This easement permanently protects a significant portion of the Pine Bend Bluffs and helps ensure that more critical habitat along the Mississippi River will remain available for the migratory birds that utilize the Mississippi flyway and the animals that live here throughout the year, said FMR Conservation Director Tom Lewanski, who helped develop the partnership and the plan to permanently protect KONHSA. Adding 150 acres of protected diverse natural communities to the adjacent 314-acre Pine Bend Bluffs Scientific & Natural Area helps to ensure the viability of the Pine Bend Bluffs as critical habitat.

Dakota County purchased the conservation easement with funding assistance from the Outdoor Heritage Fund and FMR. The easement is the culmination of years of planning, collaboration and negotiating amongst Macalester, Dakota County, FMR and the City of Inver Grove Heights. FMR Executive Director Whitney Clark applauded the partnership, noting that the partners understood the importance of this property to the vitality of larger Pine Bend Bluffs Natural Area. It took years to turn this vision into reality, said Clark. Macalester College and Dakota County should be congratulated for sticking with us to work out the myriad issues that came up over the years. Through this easement, a beautiful natural area will continue to serve as a place for plants and animals and people alike for generations to come.

FMR has been leading the effort to protect, restore and enhance the natural communities in the Pine Bend Bluffs Natural Area since 1998. These efforts led to the establishment of the Pine Bend Bluffs Scientific and Natural Area in 2002, which started out at 168 acres. FMR has conducted restoration and enhancement on hundreds of acres within the Pine Bend Bluffs, with professional and volunteer assistance, in both the official Pine Bend Scientific and Natural Area and the larger, 1,300-acre Pine Bend Bluffs Natural Area, much of which remains privately owned.

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