Partnerships and Private Donations Bring New Public Lands Complex to Central Minnesota

Thanks to a unique partnership approach to permanent land protection in Minnesota, Pheasants Forever (PF) is proud to announce a stunning new piece of property nestled along the Sauk River Chain of Lakes. The Stearns County Parks Department is developing plans for a 249-acre parcel in Stearns County, just outside the city of Cold Spring, focusing on a multitude of recreational activities open to the community. 

Centered on wildlife habitat conservation with a vision for community infrastructure, the sprawling property will include an adjoining seven-acre plot slated for a possible boat landing, picnic shelter, bathrooms, a fishing pier and primitive camping. The park will be the first in Stearns County to allow small game and archery deer hunting for the public. Plans are currently underway for wetland and prairie restorations on the farmland portion of the property. The new park also contains wooded areas, a trout stream and a heron rookery. 

“Accessibility is a huge priority with this project. If you live in Cold Spring, you can enjoy a beautiful natural space almost within walking distance,” said Sabin Adams, PF’s Minnesota state coordinator. “The new park will balance the need for wildlife habitat with the opportunity for community residents to interact with wild places close to where they live.” 

The project was initially funded with donations from Stearns County Pheasants Forever and the Dakota Ringnecks chapters. Minnesota’s Outdoor Heritage Fund, administered by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, was also a principal source of funding. The project has been developed in partnership with the Sauk River Watershed District. Additional support was provided by PF & QF chapters, donors, and members who contribute to the organization’s Build a Wildlife Area® program. 

Stearns County used $333,450 from leftover CARES funding for the project. More than $200,000 was raised during two fundraising events from private sources and a $500,000 donation was received from an anonymous local donor.

“There’s no other public property like this on the Sauk River Chain of Lakes,” said Ben Anderson, the Stearns County Parks director. “It’s an amazing opportunity to provide access to the water while also preserving the scenery and wildlife habitat. A big group of people worked together to make this happen, and I think that shows what a special place it is.”

The county will seek public input over the summer and begin to develop a management and facilities plan for the park. If everything goes to plan, Anderson said the park could possibly be completed and ready to open in late summer or fall 2025.

By permanently protecting high-quality habitat, Pheasants Forever’s acquisition strategy provides solutions for the nation’s most complex sustainability issues including improved biodiversity, soil health, water stewardship, and rural economic development— while simultaneously prioritizing maximum impact for pheasants, quail, and associated wildlife.

For questions about public land access in Minnesota, contact Sabin Adams at

About Pheasants Forever 

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever make up the nation's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. This community of more than 420,000 members, supporters and partners is dedicated to the protection of our uplands through habitat improvement, public access, education, and advocacy. A network of 754 local chapters spread across North America determine how 100 percent of their locally raised funds are spent — the only national conservation organization that operates through this grassroots structure. Since its creation in 1982, the organization has dedicated more than $1 billion to 580,000 habitat projects benefiting 26.5 million acres.

Media Contact
Dave Schwarz

Photo captions: A portion of a new Stearns County Park on land conveyed by Pheasants Forever along the Sauk River Chain of Lakes is pictured in June, 2024.  (Photo by Dave Schwarz/Pheasants Forever)