Development of the McColl Pond ELC began in the summer of 1997. Site grading and seeding were the first steps in restoring the site. Native prairie and wildflower seeds were carefully chosen to recreate what this site looked like prior to European settlement. Around this time, the Mdewakanton Dakota people settled in much of Scott County, hunting and gathering food in and around McColl Pond.
The prairie planted here gives visitors a glimpse of one of the three major biomes that meet in Minnesota. Northern coniferous forest dominated northeastern Minnesota, tall grass prairie occupied the south and west, and eastern deciduous forest covered a broad band between the two.
These vegetation types were distributed on the landscape according to climate, soil and landform patterns. Natural disturbances such as fire, drought, windstorm and insect outbreaks modified the vegetation on a local and regional scale. Of these, fire was the most important disturbance agent.