County seeks input for Spring Lake Park Master Plan

Posted 3/10/21

By Bruce Karnick [email protected] Dakota County is seeking public review and input on long-range plans for Spring Lake Park Reserve, located in Rosemount and Nininger Township near Hastings. …

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County seeks input for Spring Lake Park Master Plan


By Bruce Karnick

[email protected]

Dakota County is seeking public review and input on long-range plans for Spring Lake Park Reserve, located in Rosemount and Nininger Township near Hastings.

The Spring Lake Park Reserve draft master plan makes recommendations for park improvements and identifies a long-term vision. The draft natural resources management plan establishes land restoration priorities and identifies management goals.

The plans respond to community input gathered in fall 2019 and spring 2020. They are intended to enhance the park experience by improving Mississippi River views and access, adding low-impact natural trails, restoring habitat, reintroducing bison, and more.

Community feedback will be used to refine the plans, which will be adopted in spring 2021.

There are three ways you can get involved:

• Online input: To view the draft plans and provide your input through April 4, visit, search spring lake plan.

• Online community open house: Join us for a virtual open house Tuesday, March 23 from 6–7 p.m. It will include a presentation of the plans and opportunity to ask county staff questions. To access the Zoom meeting link, visit, search spring lake plan. The open house is the third and final community meeting during the planning process for the park.

• Digital scavenger hunt: A digital scavenger hunt will be held March 12–April 4. The digital scavenger hunt is a fun, self-guided, outdoor activity for exploring the park. You can learn about the plan and provide feedback. To play, download the free GooseChase app and search for Spring Lake Park Reserve (game code X385ZZ).

The Dakota County website describes the need to ensure the investments in the park reflect the needs of the community. The master plan will include a long-range vision for the park and a 10-year plan to guide future decisions about park activities, capital investment and natural resource restoration.

The Natural Resources Management Plan will address restoration priorities and provide near-term management recommendations for the natural areas in the park.

One key feature the plan is looking at is adding bison. In Minnesota, natural communities were maintained by three processes, fires, climate, and grazing. Bison were the primary grazers for thousands of years before European settlement. Their natural habitat covered roughly 300,000 acres or nearly 80% of Dakota County. Many of Minnesota and Dakota County’s rare species are associated with prairie and oak savanna because there is so little remaining today. Historically, bison were an important part of the County’s landscape but are no longer found here in the wild. The plan is looking to add Bison in a natural, yet controlled portion of Spring Lake Park.

Another improvement is centered around the relationship of the Dakota people and the land. Tribal members are consulting with the plan execution and helping guide many of the interpretive stations in the reserve.

Other amenities are being looked at as well; An amphitheater, improved trails including connection from Hastings to St. Paul as part of the Mississippi River Greenway trail. Improvements to the water access on the west end of the reserve, an outdoor classroom and expanded camping opportunities just to name a few.

According to plan documents, recreation and natural resource improvements are prioritized into five-year, tenyear, and long-term phases, based on connection to the vision and principles, community support, benefit-to-cost ratio, cost, and estimated operational costs. Estimates are planning level, prepared in 2020 dollars, and will be refined as projects advance to construction. Projects will require Tribal consultation during design and engineering phases and Tribal monitoring during construction.

The cost in 2020 dollars for the 5-year plan is $4,945,000, the 10-year plan is an additional $6,278,000 making the total implementation over the next 10 years $11,223,000. Additionally, the long-term plan looks to run $14,873,000 making the total investment top the $26 million mark.

There are over 400 pages of documents on the Dakota County website with amazing and interesting details of the plan. Residents of Dakota County should be excited to see this much work being put into an area that Hastings can reach in 10-15 minutes. This will be a destination park for outdoor enthusiasts and families and the close proximity to Hastings just gives us more of an opportunity to showcase our wonderful town.