In partnership with Macalester College, the City of Inver Grove Heights, and Friends of the Mississippi River, Dakota County has helped permanently protect 150 acres of the Katharine Ordway Natural History Study Area (Ordway Field Station) along the Mississippi River in Inver Grove Heights.
The Ordway Field Station comprises the northern portion of the larger 1,300-acre Pine Bend Bluffs Natural Area that includes a 256-acre State Scientific and Natural Area. The Macalester College property includes tall grass prairie, oak savanna, woodlands, permanent and seasonal ponds, springs, a large Mississippi River backwater lake and islands, more than 600 species of plants and animals, and 11 plant species unique to Dakota County.
The cost of the conservation easement was $550,000, which included a significant land value donation by the college. Funding came from the following sources: $275,000 from Dakota County’s Farmland and Natural Areas Program; $250,000 from the Outdoor Heritage Fund created under the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, through an appropriation by the Minnesota Legislature as recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council; and $25,000 from Friends of the Mississippi River.
The majority of the funds will be invested in the Ordway Field Station to provide an ongoing source of revenue for natural resource management, research, education and public outreach at the site.
The Ordway Field Station was established in 1967 as an outdoor classroom with the assistance of a major gift from Katharine Ordway. Several academic departments including biology, environmental studies, and geology use the facility for teaching and research. Recently, in collaboration with a new Macalester outdoor environmental education course, students from the nearby elementary school began using the property on a more regular basis as part of their curriculum.
As part of the County easement agreement, the college will provide more opportunities for the public to visit the property in the future. The public can visit the property by contacting the college in advance. Read more about the Ordway Field Station.