Please note: I generally refuse to link to the StarTribune due to their recent use of a paywall but it provides the best summary of the changes to Lebanon Hills. For this I apologize in advance.
According to this article which recently appeared in the StarTribune, Dakota County’s Lebanon Hills recently underwent some cosmetic changes in and around the visitors center located at Schulze Lake in Eagan. While this 1.3 million dollar upgrade is seen as wonderful, some may wonder if these upgrades are doing more harm than good.
From the article:
Lebanon Hills Regional Park in Eagan has reopened its visitor center with some changes: a paved sidewalk looping through the campus, a parking lot with improved lighting and accessibility, rain gardens, and a safer sledding hill and natural amphitheater.
In a section winding into the oak savanna next to Schulze Lake, lights snap on at dusk, which extends trail use during dark winter months. “We have seen people using it late afternoon and early evening, which is great,” said Beth Landahl, Dakota County Parks manager of operations and education.
Many people regularly visit Lebanon Hills at all times of the year and due to its being centrally located in one of the South Metro’s most populated cities it’s incredibly popular and one of the largest and truly open and wilderness-like locations in the city. However some visitors note how the changes, while certainly welcome to a few, maybe be limiting the exposure of metro-based individuals to truly wild areas:
“I’m sure this will be nice,” said Lacey Burres of Inver Grove Heights, who frequents Lebanon Hills with her family to snowshoe or hike. “I liked it a little more wild.”
In a similar vein to the quote which appeared in the StarTribune article, one first time Lebanon Hills visitor who spoke with Lazy Lightning noted, “I didn’t think of it as being the same area, since all the trees were cut down. and I preferred the natural paths to the concrete.” While the majority of Lebanon Hills is still quite natural, one may wonder just how many people realize there is more to the park than the disconnected visitors center area which, at one time, was just as beautiful as the rest of the park prior to the changes made in the last few years.
Do you like the changes that were made to Lebanon Hills? Do you find yourself requiring lighted and/or paved trails to hike in local parks? Do you worry about the future of our parks when so much emphasis is placed on entirely removing natural settings to increase accessibility instead of letting those changes blend better into the surrounding area? Whatever you have to say about the changes made to the area around Lebanon Hills’ Visitors Center go ahead and comment on!