Fairy Falls north of Stillwater will soon get some much-needed care and attention.
Stillwater Township residents Kyle and Nicky TePoel are forming a new citizens group, The Friends of Fairy Falls, which will be devoted to enhancing and maintaining the 60-acre waterfall area and hiking trail.
The Friends of Fairy Falls was this year’s winner of the Stillwater Area Community Foundation’s Great Idea Competition. This is the contest’s seventh year.
The group received a $10,000 grant for the Fairy Falls restoration effort.
“Fairy Falls is a hidden, secret treasure, and it needs some love and attention,” said Mary Richie, chairwoman of the foundation’s Great Ideas Competition Committee.
The waterfall is within the boundaries of the St. Croix National Wild and Scenic Riverway; the Friends group will be working with National Park Service officials on recruiting volunteers; graffiti and trash removal; increasing safety and security; removing invasive species, and erosion-control efforts, Kyle TePoel said.
“This is public land available to everyone, but almost every time we go there, there’s garbage and graffiti everywhere and eroded trails at the cliffs’ edge,” said TePoel, who lives about a mile away. “We feel this is a site that should be enjoyed, but also respected and cared for.”
National parks are facing funding and staffing shortages, said TePoel, a former National Park Service ranger. “A Friends group can help get work done,” he said.
Each year, the foundation accepts applications from residents, businesses, nonprofits and other groups who have an idea that will benefit local communities — and who have the determination and ability to put it into action. Twelve applications were submitted this year.
“This project stood out because it’s individuals looking to improve a public space for everyone to use,” Richie said. “It’s really a little jewel in our area that needs some love and care.”
Other past Great Idea winners include Power of the St. Croix Utility Box Mural Project, Beautify the Stillwater Stairs, River City Sculpture Tour, Pollinator Friendly Alliance of Stillwater, and Friends of Stillwater Area Dog Park.
If you have questions about the Fairy Falls restoration efforts, or would like to volunteer, contact Kyle TePoel at firstname.lastname@example.org.