May 23, 2022
Wood Lake's presence within the Richfield/Bloomington watershed area helps to reduce damage caused by floods by slowing and storing flood water. Twenty two drainage pipes flow into this marsh. For every inch of precipitation, the water levels of the marsh can increase by one foot. As water moves slowly through a marsh, sediment and other pollutants settle to the substrate or floor of the marsh.
The marsh is a natural water filtration system with vegetation and microorganisms that filter excess nutrients out of the water for growth. Excess nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizer and other run off can otherwise pollute surface water. The marsh filters the water before it continues along its path into the Mississippi River and makes its way into the gulf.
Wood Lake Nature Center is a 150-acre natural area dedicated to environmental education, wildlife observation, and outdoor recreation. The center’s staff offices are located in a 4,000 square-foot main building, which features many educational exhibits (see hours above). The park also features several wildlife viewing areas, a 100-seat amphitheater, a picnic ground, and three miles of trails and boardwalks. The trails are either blacktop or crushed limestone and most are wheelchair accessible during summer months. To preserve the natural habitat, no pets, bikes, or rollerblades are allowed
Wood Lake's mission is to provide the public with high-quality experiences in recreation and environmental education programs, act as a teacher/naturalist training facility and provide a high quality, diverse freshwater marsh-oriented nature facility for those programs and for use by individuals and groups seeking unprogrammed natural experiences.
Wood Lake was once a recreational lake, surrounded by homes, but much of its water drained in the 1950's. In 1969, the Richfield City Council approved the conversion of Wood Lake into a nature center.
The City of Richfield has supported Wood Lake Nature Center for 50 years. Wood Lake - dedicated as the first municipal nature center in 1971 - was one of the first nature centers built in the Twin Cities. In 1991, Friends of Wood Lake (FOWL) was formed as an advocacy and fundraising group.
Each year, Wood Lake naturalists provide guided programming to over 20,000 individuals. Approximately 72,000 visitors a year visit Wood Lake for the trails and overall nature experience.