City and Conservation Fund announce that Henry Park is here

The little park along Battle Creek's river bluffs was in danger of development. But now it's going to expand trails and recreation along the Mississippi River.

Hosting an Oct. 21 open house at the city's newest pocket park, city officials and the nonprofit Conservation Fund were all too happy to announce the addition to the city's park system. This 11-acre property has long been one of Saint Paul's top open-space conservation priorities and is key to several greenway planning efforts along Saint Paul's 17 miles of Mississippi River frontage, according to city officials.

"This is such a valuable addition to the park system. This project has garnered broad-based community support for many years, especially through Friends of Henry Park," said Mayor Chris Coleman. "The park is a critical component of the City's National Great River Park plan, which aims to reposition Saint Paul's riverfront as an unqualified environmental and recreational asset to the City."

"This is an example of a tremendous collaborative effort between the community, the Conservation Fund and the City that is typical of Saint Paul," said Bob Bierscheid, Saint Paul Parks & Recreation Department director. "Henry Park is truly a diamond in the rough."

"The addition of Henry Park to the city's park system links Saint Paul even more closely with one of the world's most important rivers, the Mississippi," said Tom Duffus, state director for The Conservation Fund, a group devoted to purchasing enviromentally sensitive lands for use as parks and greenspace.

"Thanks to the support of The McKnight Foundation and The WM Foundation and the leadership of Mayor Coleman, we can ensure that this critical land remains protected and enhances recreation opportunities for future generations," said Duffus.

The 11-acre parcel overlooking Pig's Eye Lake includes significant fragile Mississippi blufflands, forests and wildlife habitat, and could one day provide key links to an extensive open-space system within the river corridor, including public bike and walking trails.

"Henry Park protects an endangered oak savanna and beautiful river bluff views for the public to enjoy and will provide a critical river trail connection to Pig's Eye Lake," said Tom Dimond, leader of Friends of Henry Park. "The acquisition is part of an ongoing effort to acquire and protect the bluffs in the Mississippi River Critical Area along the Scenic Byway Great River Road."

Friends of Henry Park - a group comprised of many East Siders - will be seeking funding from the Minnesota Legislature in January to continue the bluff acquisition program and to build the trail connection to the river.

Henry Park is within the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, the state-designated Mississippi River Critical Area, and an Audubon important bird area in the Mississippi River flyway.

The Conservation Fund negotiated the purchase of the property, and will immediately transfer the park to the City of Saint Paul later this month.

Support for the acquisition was provided by the City of Saint Paul, The Conservation Fund's Mississippi River Revolving Loan Fund, (which is funded in part by The McKnight Foundation) and by the Wallace Dayton Revolving Fund.

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