Ransacked Minnesota historic site to be reborn as park

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A parcel of land that's one of Minnesota's most historic sites and considered sacred to some American Indians sits littered with glass, rusting debris and trashed buildings covered with graffiti and paintball splatters.

But beginning next month, excavators and other heavy equipment will level all 12 buildings on the land between Fort Snelling and Minnehaha Park, the first step in restoring the area to create a new national park addition.

The federal property, 27 acres formerly owned by the U.S. Bureau of Mines, contains the Coldwater Spring area that was part of one of the longest protests in state history in the late 1990s. Its transfer to the National Park Service in January 2010 and planned restoration is a turning point in what has been a long and sorry decline for the property, which has been vacant, neglected and ransacked during the past 15 years.

"It's terrific that such a potentially complicated and controversial situation has resolved itself very nicely," said Whitney Clark, executive director of Friends of the Mississippi River, which advocates for the river and its shoreline....

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