Urban Renewal Awards, Vento Nature Sanctuary, St. Paul, Minnesota
On the banks of the Mississippi River, Vento Nature Sanctuary is now home to bald eagles, blue herons, and acres of restored wetlands. It’s also popular with rock and ice climbers who like to propel themselves up the steep walls that rise from the river. Yet, Vento was once a dying rail yard, left to rust by the Burlington National Railroad. Thanks to a grant from the city’s Metropolitan Council and private donations, all contaminated soil was removed and the boundaries of the park were expanded so folks can have more green space to play.