The vision: a new, 500-acre natural retreat in the middle of Blaine, relatively untarnished by human interaction.
Residents strolling through the future Blaine Wetland Sanctuary will be able to observe the native flora and fauna of the region, including deer, rabbit, fox and rarities such as the lance-leaved violet and dewberry. Much of the land, now being restored to wetlands, will be protected from development under a conservation easement. Nature lovers will be asked to tread lightly, to stay on marked trails. No dogs, motorized vehicles or bicycles will be allowed.
This month, city staff will give residents their first peek at plans for more than seven miles of trail and an interpretive center.
The city will host an open house from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on March 26 in the atrium at City Hall, with a formal presentation to start at 6:45 p.m.
Blaine has acquired the land near the corner of Lexington and 109th avenues during the past two decades. It will now spend $2.5 million in mostly dedicated open space dollars during the next five years to turn it into a sanctuary. The city has decided to make it open to the public.
“It’s really peaceful,” said Jim Hafner, Blaine stormwater manager, who is overseeing the sanctuary development. “We want to be able to keep this open space area for wildlife, plants and educational purposes.”
In an effort to open some of the land to the public as soon as possible, the city will build a trail running from the trails of East Lake Park in the Lakes of Blaine development across to a to-be-constructed parking lot at Lexington Avenue, which will be the eventual site of the nature center.
Stantec, a consulting firm from Roseville, is overseeing design and construction of the project.
Kelly Person took a walk on an existing trail now skirting the future sanctuary.
“That would be fabulous,” she said of the plans. “It’s beautiful here.”