The Katharine Ordway Natural History Study Area is located on the bluffs of the Mississippi River in Inver Grove Heights. It comprises the northern portion of the larger 1,300-acre Pine Bend Bluffs Natural Area. The nearly 300-acre site was established in 1967 by Macalester College, with the help of a major gift from Katharine Ordway.
The many natural habitats found on the property include:
- Tall grass prairie
- Oak savanna and woodland
- Riparian forests
- Seasonal and permanent ponds and springs, and
- A backwater lake, adjacent to the Mississippi River.
The property has more than 600 species of plants and animals. Eleven plant species are unique to Dakota County.
The County acquired a 163-acre natural area conservation easement for $550,000 in 2012. Macalester College gave a significant land value donation.
In addition to $275,000 from the County, funding included $250,000 from the Outdoor Heritage Fund and $25,000 from Friends of the Mississippi River. The college is dedicating the majority of the funds to provide an ongoing source of revenue for natural resource management, research, education and public outreach at the site.
Recently, students from a nearby elementary school began using the property on a more regular basis as part of their school work.
As agreed to, Macalester will provide more opportunities for the public to visit the property. The public can visit the property by contacting the college in advance. Read more about the Ordway Field Station.