Vadnais-Snail Lakes Regional Park has grand reopening

Vadnais Heights Council member Jerry Auge releasing a rehabilitated hooded merganser from the Wildlife Rehabilitation center of Minnesota in Roseville. (submitted photo)

Ribbon Cutting ceremony at the grand reopening of redeveloped Vadnais-Snail Lakes Regional Park. From left: Vadnais Heights Mayor Marc Johannsen, Senator Bev Scalze, Ramsey County Commissioner Blake Huffman, Vadnais Heights Council member Jerry Auge, Representative Connie Bernardy and Representative Jason Isaacson. (submitted photo)

A ribbon cutting ceremony for the redeveloped Vadnais Lakes portion of Vadnais-Snail Lakes Regional Park was held on Wednesday, July 24 from 5 to 6 p.m.

The ceremony included remarks from Vadnais Heights Mayor Marc Johannsen and the release of several rehabilitated hooded mergansers from the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Roseville.

The mayor, city council members and state legislators, also attended the ceremony held by Ramsey County Commissioner Blake Huffman and the Ramsey County Parks and Recreation Department.

The parkland is owned by St. Paul Regional Water Services, but managed by the Ramsey County Parks and Recreation Department under a 1996 joint powers agreement.

Work on the redevelopment project began late last summer and was completed in July.

The nearly $1.1 million project was funded by a Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment grant.

The project included converting the former Sucker Lake Road into a pedestrian and bike trail between East and West Vadnais Lakes. Several fishing nodes with limestone blocks and benches were installed along the trail as well. Improved parking lots with more parking spaces were also constructed at the south park entrance off Vadnais Boulevard and at the north park entrance off County Road F.

Greg Mack, director of Ramsey County Parks and Recreation, says that the park’s improvements have been well received by park users, with the exception of a hand full of fishermen, who liked having easy fishing access from their vehicles.

Mack says the aging road had serious deterioration problems. Fixing the road would have required installing storm water cells on a very narrow road with no pullouts for vehicles.

In the end, up-to-date design standards to provide safety and environmental protection for the lakes flanking the road proved to be too costly.

“It was beyond the scope of what we could do,” Mack explains.

Mack says the Regional Water Services decided that replacing the road with a multi purpose trail was not only better for water quality, but would benefit park users as a whole.

The road was too narrow to accommodate vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians. Now hikers and bikers can use the trail without having to compromise their safety with vehicle traffic on the narrow strip of road, Mack said.

“The park redevelopment has made the park so much better,” Vadnais Heights’ Recreation Supervisor Brigid Nault says. “It’s a great place to walk, fish, run, bird watch and cross country ski.”

Nault says the 1,252-acre park is a “best kept secret” that she believes more people will now enjoy.

“It’s something to really be proud of. If people were to see it they would really be amazed, Nault says. “It’s such a unique natural phenomenon. There’s not many houses or people around and you can get that boundary waters feel close to home.”

Joshua Nielsen can be reached at or 651-748-7824.

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