Blakeley Bluffs Park Reserve

Courtesy of Three Rivers Park District

The river bluffs near Belle Plaine offer scenic views of the Minnesota River. A future regional park is planned for Blakeley Township.

A future park reserve planned along the Minnesota River bluffs in Blakeley Township received a boost from the Metropolitan Council last month.

The council’s grant, totaling $25,650, will support Scott County’s acquisition of a 15-acre floodplain forest planned to be within the future park reserve’s boundary.

The property, owned by Muehlenhardt Revocable Trust, is adjacent to roughly 236-acres of county-owned land marked for the future park reserve.

According to Scott County’s grant application, the property is one of four contiguous parcels envisioned to support hiking, shore fishing and bird watching in the river’s floodplain forests.

The land will support efforts to protect native plant communities along the Minnesota River, and also offer a connection between the future park and the railroad corridor underpass.

Scott County adopted a Blakeley Bluffs Park Reserve Acquisition Master Plan in 2011. Efforts to preserve the bluffs date back to the early 1960s, according to the plan.

In 2004, the county began searching for a place to carve out a future regional park. The plan adopted in 2011 narrowed the 6,000-acre search area to an established, 2,440-acre future park boundary to be known as the Blakeley Bluffs Park Reserve.

Goals of the future park’s development include protection of cultural resources and preservation of historic landscapes, native plant communities and wildlife habitat areas.

The regional park is also considered an opportunity for economic growth in Blakeley Township.