One of the most pristine lakes in the seven-county metro area may become the focus of a new “special recreation feature” in the regional parks system.
The Metropolitan Council will hold a public hearing on April 15 to receive comments on a proposed amendment to the 2030 Regional Parks Policy Plan to add Kingswood Special Recreation Feature on Little Long Lake in Minnetrista to the regional parks system.
Three Rivers Park District hopes to acquire the site of a former Methodist Church camp and create a special recreation feature to promote stewardship of water resources. As proposed, Kingswood will include a service learning program focused on shoreline improvement, water quality studies, invasive species management, forest resources management and related projects.
Property includes intact “Big Woods” remnant of state’s original deciduous forest
The site is 106 acres and includes intact maple-basswood forest, oak woodlands, managed prairie and a rare tamarack bog. It also includes 70% of the shoreline of Little Long Lake. The lake consistently ranks in the top 10% in terms of water quality of the nearly 400 metro area lakes that are tracked annually through the Council’s water quality monitoring program.
In 2003, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Council conducted a landscape-scale assessment of the metro area. They designated the Kingswood property a Regionally Significant Ecological Area of outstanding quality.
Three Rivers Park District, which is proposing to acquire and develop the park, has entered into a purchase agreement with the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church for the property. For 65 years, the conference operated Camp Kingswood on the land, but decided to close it in 2012.
“This purchase will provide the public with recreational and educational access to Little Long Lake, one of the most pristine water bodies in Hennepin County,” said Penny Steele, who represents District 1 on the Three Rivers Park District Board of Commissioners. “It secures the land for a future regional trail that links several of the District’s well-loved trails and destinations.”
Special recreation features offer unique visitor opportunities
Special recreation features are called for in state legislation. They are park-like but offer opportunities generally not found in regional parks, park reserves or trails. Others in the existing system include the Como Zoo and Conservatory in Como Regional Park (St. Paul); Square Lake (May Township in Washington County); Noerenberg Gardens (Lake Minnetonka); Gale Woods Farm (Minnetrista); Silverwood (St. Anthony); and The Landing (Shakopee).
In addition to the special recreation feature, the Kingswood property would also include a regional trail. The 2030 Regional Parks Policy Plan identifies the Minnetrista Regional Trail Search Corridor, which will connect the Luce Line State Trail, Gale Woods Farm, Dakota Rail Regional Trail, Lake Minnetonka Regional Park, Carver Park Reserve and the Lake Minnetonka LRT Regional Trail.
The public hearing will be held Monday, April 15, at 4:30 p.m., in the Council Chambers at 390 Robert St. N., downtown St. Paul.
Comments will be accepted until 4:30 p.m., Thursday, April 25.