Freedom Park column: Prescott landmark rediscovered

By Jeff Ruehle, Board Chair
Posted 8/3/23

Have you ever misplaced something dear to you or hunted for anything in particular and wouldn’t give up until you found it? Most everyone has heard or read about someone going to a garage …

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Freedom Park column: Prescott landmark rediscovered


Have you ever misplaced something dear to you or hunted for anything in particular and wouldn’t give up until you found it? Most everyone has heard or read about someone going to a garage sale or rummaging around in their grandparents’ attic looking for potential treasures. Sometimes to their surprise, they find something of great value, triggering fond memories of people, places or events. In rare instances, though, the object of discovery turns out to be extremely valuable and the joy of the find becomes quite contagious to everyone who participates in the discovery. 

This same discovery scenario is playing out right now in Prescott. A treasured 76-acre landmark has been “rediscovered” along the banks of the Mississippi River near the confluence of the St. Croix River. This ecological treasure, known locally as Pine Coulee, is one of Pierce County's historic and uniquely beautiful places. It has drawn curious visitors for over 100 years, inspiring nature enthusiasts, artists and photographers to the area seeking to capture the site’s natural beauty. 

Landmark Conservancy, Friends of Freedom Park, Coulee River Trails and the National Park Service are working together in partnership with the current property's private owner to create Pine Coulee Nature Preserve for public enjoyment and recreation. Landmark Conservancy is a nationally recognized, non-profit land trust serving 20 counties in western and northwestern Wisconsin. For the past 50 years, they have worked primarily with private landowners who wish to conserve their land in perpetuity and have permanently protected a total of 41,222 acres to date. In a highly effective and collaborative effort, Landmark entered into a purchase agreement for the 76-acre Pine Coulee parcel and pursued a major grant from the Wisconsin DNR. This spring, the WI DNR awarded Landmark Conservancy a $461,000 Knowles-Nelson grant for just under half of the purchase price of the property.  

The public has also been actively engaged in the planning and visioning of an expanded parks and trails system. Without public support, the vision for this would not have happened. A survey of City of Prescott and Oak Grove Township residents indicated the importance of a park and trail network. The public brought this concept to life, and the public will be integral in supporting the acquisition of Pine Coulee and subsequent phases of management and development. At a joint meeting of the City and Town in April 2022, both municipalities indicated support for Landmark’s acquisition of Pine Coulee by passing Council and Board Resolutions of Support, respectively.

We are now entering the very important phase of raising the additional $500,000 through a combination of public and private fundraising. This is where we need everyone’s help to raise the remaining funds to secure this property for public enjoyment in perpetuity.  AGAIN, WE NEED EVERYONE’S HELP. Look for upcoming announcements on each of the partners' websites and media posts about how you can get involved and help raise funds to acquire Pine Coulee at:,, and We need your help!

And don’t forget to join us at Freedom Park for a fun-filled two days from 6-9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 11 and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12. Friday night will host a family friendly concert in our Amphitheater. Music will be provided by Mayfair 3. A freewill donation to attend the concert will be accepted at the amphitheater entrance. Saturday will host a food booth by Philander’s Grill & Bar, a bar tent, treat booths, BINGO, auction/raffle, music, a kid’s carnival area, animals, history display, and so much more. Please come to support Freedom Park. We look forward to seeing you at the event and pre-thank you for your support! 

Freedom Park – Great River Road Visitor and Learning Center 200 Monroe St. PO Box 22 Prescott, WI 54021

Pine Coulee, Landmark Conservancy, Friends of Freedom Park, Coulee River Trails, National Park Service, Freedom Park, Prescott