St. Croix National Scenic Riverway is currently exploring opportunities to improve safety, protect the natural environment, and enhance visitor experiences at the Fairy Falls Day Use Area, located near Stillwater, Minnesota.
Fairy Falls Day Use Area is a 54 acre nature area located in the Township of Stillwater. Deep ravines and steep cliffs surround Silver Creek as it crosses a marsh on its way to the St. Croix River.
The area has a long history of human use and its ecological diversity provides habitat for a variety of plants and animals. The Fairy Falls day-use area is currently closed to the public due to lack of safe visitor access and deteriorating social trails along the steep slopes.
In October and November 2021, Riverway staff invited public comment to gather feedback and ideas for the future of the Fairy Falls day-use area. Over 40 comments from members of the public and partners were submitted during a month-long public comment period, and over 30 people attended two virtual open houses held October 19 and 21, 2021.
“The Riverway thanks the public for their enthusiastic participation in this process and their thoughtful contribution to the future of this important site,” said Terri Hogan, Acting Superintendent of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.
Reviewers have noted a variety of issues and opportunities at the Fairy Falls day use area and summaries of these are provided below.
Commenters shared possible solutions for the parking situation, including locations of trailheads and parking lots, connection options, and parking management solutions such as permits. Other management comments included the provision of basic amenities such as litter bins, toilets and benches or picnic areas.
Reviewers also noted opportunities for interpretation and education about natural and cultural resources, such as signage about the site’s plants, wildlife, and historic resources.
Many comments included suggestions for improved visitor access, better maps and trail signage, and dedicated viewing areas for Fairy Falls. Others asked to allow or support different or additional recreational uses such as mountain biking, archery-only hunting, and ice climbing.
Some reviewers suggested a volunteer corps for trail stewardship and garbage pick-up, and several reviewers offered to participate.
Several comments highlighted the possibility of better connecting the Fairy Falls day-use area to the rest of the St. Croix National Scenic Waterway, both in terms of on-the-ground connections, but also interpretation and connections. educational.
The public awareness and comment period in the fall of 2021 was the first step in the planning process for the Fairy Falls day-use area. These comments and ideas will be used as park staff prepare a range of possible future alternatives for the site.
Riverway personnel will continue to engage the public during the process and assess compliance needs under the National Environmental Policy Act and other environmental regulations.
All project updates throughout the process can be found at the Planning for Fairy Falls link at nps.gov/sacn or by calling St. Croix National Scenic Riverway Headquarters at 715-483-2274.