Big Elk Lake Parkland

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Sherburne County has recently doubled its park space with the addition of tEnvironment and Natural Resources Trust Fund logohe Big Elk Lake Parkland. These 430 acres are located just 20 minutes from St. Cloud and offer many benefits to local communities. The landscape offers tremendous opportunity to restore and protect native plant communities, including native prairie, oak savanna, oak forest, wetlands and floodplain forest.

Beyond being an important outdoor space, the land also holds meaning to both Dakota and Ojibwe peoples. That’s why Sherburne County and Trust for Public Land are working with Tribal Historic Preservation Officers from the Upper Sioux Community, the Lower Sioux Indian Community, and Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe to plan and develop the landscape as a nature-based park that offers programinglogo for the Clean Water Land & Legacy amendment and interpretation on the site’s historical and contemporary significance to Minnesota’s Indigenous peoples. By protecting this sacred land, these communities can access their ancestral past.

Funding was provided by the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Natural and Scenic Area Grant Program for acquisition; the Lessard Sams Outdoor Heritage Commission has provided funding for restoration and enhancement of native prairie and oak savanna; the MN Historical Society has provided funding through the Heritage Partnership Legacy Grant to conduct a Traditional Cultural Place Survey to determine eligibility for listing on the National Register – based on cultural significance.

Currently, the County is working to clean up the land and deconstruct/remove old buildings.  In June of 2023, 52 acres of native prairie were planted, with another 110 acres to be planted in the spring of 2024.  We anticipate providing public access to an initial trail loop by the end of 2023 and look to start the first phase of park development in 2025. 

Proposed Parkland Development - Phase 1

Proposed Parkland Development Phase 1

A statement Regarding Our Stewardship of the Land and Water

This new Big Elk Lake Parkland embraces a small portion of the ancestral lands of Dakhóta Oyáte and Anishinaabe, the original stewards of the lands and waters comprising what we now call and refer to as Sherburne County. The local government organization also entitled Sherburne County is today entrusted, along with its partners, with the protection, enjoyment, and preservation of these lands and waters.  We wish to show our commitment to the Indigenous communities by preserving the burial mounds of their ancestors, prioritizing their input in our planning, development and use of this parkland, and respecting and honoring their perspectives and wisdom. This parkland is an outdoor space to humbly recognize all those who have sought to preserve the land and water - from the past to the present, from the Dakota and Ojibwe people to other previous land stewards, and now to those called into service today – all of whom have made it possible to offer this outdoor space for all people to connect to both nature and culture.