The funding for purchase and delivery of corn to feed the waterfowl viewed at Swan Park for the past 25 years was paid in its entirety by Sheila Lawrence with the generous help of a few of her close friends and countless Swan Park visitors. Contrary to what you may believe no financial support is provided by any municipal or state agencies. Since Sheila’s passing a foundation had been created to continue her legacy and to promote and grow this Monticello winter treasure. If you would like to help continue the growth of this flock of Trumpeter Swans you may do so my making a donation to the Swan City Heritage Foundation. (A 501(C)(3) Non-profit status has been granted) Send your payments to;
Swan City Heritage Foundation
PO Box 192
Monticello, MN 55362.
Address: 121 Mississippi Drive
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Swan Park is accessible from the River View pathway. From the pathway, turn left on Mississippi Drive; Mississippi Drive is an on-road route to the park. View the pathway mapSwan Feeding Program
For 35 years, Swan Park has been home to a privately-led artificial feeding program for trumpeter swans. Sheila Lawrence, the Swan Lady, began feeding the swans in the mid-1980s when their population was critically low in Minnesota. As she fed these beautiful birds along the banks of the river, more swans began to gather. Eventually the daily feeding of corn was drawing more than 3,000 birds during the Minnesota winters. She remained dedicated to her swans until her death in 2011, when the feeding program was continued by her husband, Jim Lawrence.
Over the decades, the feeding program successfully supported the recovery of the trumpeter swan population in in the region. The latest estimates suggest a statewide population of approximately 30,000 birds, a staggering improvement for these creatures.
The tireless commitment of Sheila and Jim Lawrence will continue to have a lasting impact on trumpeter swans. Now we need to take the next step in honoring their legacy to protect the birds; we need to ensure they stay wild.
After consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Minnesota DNR, and the Trumpeter Swan Society, the artificial feeding program will be discontinued in 2020, giving the swans the freedom to forage for food and reinforce their natural instinct to migrate. We still expect to see swans in the area as they search for food in open fields and take advantage of the open water along the river in Monticello, but we’re unlikely to see the significant number of birds like we have in years past.
There will be an inevitable period of adjustment for the swans and our community as we navigate the first winter without the local feeding program. However, city staff and local volunteers have worked with biologists and other swan experts from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Minnesota DNR, and Trumpeter Swan Society to create a plan that prioritizes the long-term well-being of the swans.
Swans will continue to be a unique and beautiful part of Monticello. While there’s sure to be a sense of disappointment over the loss of the feeding program, we hope residents and visitors understand the short-term adjustment is in the best interest of the swans. We can honor the legacy of the Lawrence family by continuing to protect the swans’ natural instincts and help them stay wild.
Questions about these changes? Please contact the Parks Department: 763-295-3170.
The Chamber reminds photographers and viewers that the swans are very shy. They recognize the park as a place where strangers are present, but see it as a safety zone. However, they are easily spooked when someone leaves the confines ( the deck) of the park itself to venture on neighborhood properties or down to the riverbank itself for viewing or photography which is NOT allowed. THANK YOU for observing the privacy of these beautiful birds. We consider it an honor to have them on our riverfront and we want to respect both the volunteer efforts of the Monticello resident as well as the trumpeter swans.
From St. Cloud: Take the 2nd Monticello Exit (#194) off of I-94 East, which brings you to County Road 18. Take a right onto County Road 18.
From Minneapolis: Take the first Monticello Exit (#194) off I-94, which brings you to Country Road 18. Take a right onto County Road 18.
Continue straight ahead, through the stop light (the road turns in County Rd 39E) you will take the second left onto the street Mississippi Drive. Follow the residential housing until you see a little sliver of a park located on the right hand side near the end of Mississippi Drive. This is where you may view the swans in a park-like setting. Swan Park is wheelchair accessible.
REMINDER: Please do not trespass in anyone's yard. You may view the swans by walking down a small asphalt pathway and to the viewing deck overlooking the river bank. Mississippi Drive ends in a cul-de-sac, so please utilize this to turn around. You may also get back into your vehicle and head east further down the river and view from alongside County Road 39 East. Reminder: There are opportunities for photography at every glance. Please do not trespass into anyone's yard.
Click Here to view a Video of the Swan Lady From the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources