Pilot Knob Historic Site in Mendota Heights will receive a proper spring cleaning this year.
The power lines that currently divide the sacred Dakota burial ground and site of the signing of the Treaty of 1851 will soon be buried under the roadbed. The city of Mendota Heights is coordinating the move with area utility providers.
“The lines will no longer fragment the prairie,” said Amy Jenkins, director of communications for Great River Greening. Great River Greening is currently in year four of a 10-year restoration plan for the site. The nonprofit’s efforts are funded by Mendota Heights and the Minnesota Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund.
Mendota Heights purchased Pilot Knob approximately six years ago with the support of a number of organizations, and the property has been undergoing restoration ever since.
“Pilot Knob gives us a rare window on the past,” said Gail Lewellan, co-chair of the Pilot Knob Preservation Association
City officials plan to start the line burial project within the next six weeks. However, the project is a low priority for local utility providers that will need to do the work, according to Jake Sedlacek, assistant to the city administrator.
Minnesota Department of Transportation requires the lines to maintain Highway 55.
Funding for this project is provided solely by a $75,000 grant received last fall from the Partners in Preservation program.
Pilot Knob will also undergo the next step in ecological restoration. Great River Greening is coordinating a native seed spreading and invasive species removal, which is scheduled for May 5.
A group of approximately 75 volunteers will be pulling invasive burdock and spreading native wild rye seeds.
It is important to maintain the ecological integrity of the site because the diversity of native plants in the area provides a habitat for grassland wildlife, said Jenkins.
“The site is very significant, both culturally and ecologically,” said Jenkins.