Natural Resource Management
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Two Natural Resource Coordinators oversee and implement land stewardship activities throughout the 4,800 acre park system. Current and future stewardship is outlined in each tab by park.
- Coordination with Carnelian-Marine-St. Croix Watershed District on a stormwater improvement project off of 177th St N.
- Hybrid cattail control with University of Minnesota on Big Marine Lake.
- CR-4 turtle fence crossing maintenance.
- Noxious weed control along the main park road for Canada thistle.
- Siberian elm control.
- Continued forestry of buckthorn re-sprouts in the main park area.
- Cover crop program on 24 ac of crop field within the park reserve.
- Oriental bittersweet control south of the maintenance shop.
- Rain garden maintenance.
- Prairie restoration on 24 acres of crop field in partnership with Pheasants Forever.
- Developement of a Request for Proposal on the development of a natural resource management plan.
Friends of the Mississippi River
- Restoring 160 acres of oak savanna and dry prairie within the park.
South Washington Watershed District
- Curly leaf pond treatment on Ravine Lake, funded by the South Washington Watershed District.
- Oak savanna restoration in the northern half of the park. Control is focused on common burdock and common buckthorn, with seeding of winter wheat in fall of 2023. Area to be reassessed in spring of 2024.
- Controlled burns are planned in late winter and spring 2024. No burns were conducted in 2023.
- Prescribed grazing with goats is anticipated again in 2024 with dates and locations to be determined. The park website will be updated with this information once it is known.
- Sentence to Serve crews are helping with fuel load reductions in the central portion of the park and north of Ravine Landing (area between intersection #'s 2, 4, 9, 10, 11). Crews are thinning mesic trees such as box elder, ash and hackberry to allow for more sunlight to enter the groundlayer.
- Partnering with Pollinator Friendly Alliance to restore 10 acres of prairie off Kimbro Avenue. Organic site preparation methods are being used, and planting will occur early summer. The site is anticipated to be weedy as it was prior to restoration for the first few years as the young plants establish. Haying is anticipated in summer of 2024.
- Implementing the Natural Resource Management Plan developed by Friends of the Mississippi River and funded by the South Washington Watershed District.
- Developing a firewood program to assist with fuel load reduction efforts in the park.
There are currently no land stewardship initiatives underway.
- Washington County will be continuing Ash tree removal efforts in the fall 2023/winter 2024 as a result of the impacts from Emerald Ash Borer. This work will result in trail impacts and trail closures. See map for information.
- In 2022, Washington County received a $50,000 Expedited Conservation Partners Legacy grant (part of the Outdoor Heritage Fund Grant) for 18 acres or oak savanna restoration on the north half of the park . This work will involve selectively removing box elders. Some material will be burned on site, remaining will be hauled and chipped for firewood. Work is anticipated to start in fall 2023.
- Sentence to Serve crews are thinning in oak savanna restoration areas by gathering dead and downed wood to prepare sites for future controlled burns.
- Controlled burns are planned in prairie and oak savanna restoration areas winter/spring 2024.
- In 2020, Washington County received a $390,000 Metropolitan Conservation Partners Legacy grant in 2020 for over 166 acres of oak savanna and prairie restoration on the west half of Lake Elmo Park Reserve. In 2024, we will look to seed, mow and hay 45 acres of establishing prairies.
- Prescribed grazing with goats will be used to control buckthorn re-sprouts in oak savanna restoration areas in 2024. The website will be updated with locations and dates when information is available.
Great River Greening/Butler Family Foundation
- Butler Family Foundation in partnership with Great River Greening helped establish 24.5 acres of prairie production plots at Lake Elmo Park Reserve on the north end of the park reserve, south of the barns. The fields were planted in spring, fall and winter of 2018, mowing is occurring during 2019 to help natives establish followed by weed control in 2020. We are continuing to bring volunteer groups out to collect native seed from the plots.
Pollinator Friendly Alliance
- Pollinator Friendly Alliance held a planting event in the fall of 2023 on the north half of Eagle Point Lake. Species included leadplant, Carolina rose, large leaved aster, columbine, silky dogwood, American elderberry, Virginia mountain mint and large flowered penstemon.
- Continuing to plant in areas where buckthorn removal has occurred along Eagle Point Lake in Lake Elmo to increase diversity.
- Continuing to develop a plan to implement conservation-based seasonal grazing (Bison or Cattle) on the west half of Lake Elmo Park Reserve to help maintain grassland.
- Collaborating with MPCA with the PFAs investigation throughout Lake Elmo Park Reserve.
- Conversations with volunteers interested in performing buckthorn removal.
Pollinator Friendly Alliance
- Helping restore 11 acres of cropland to prairie, with a $22,500 Expedited Conservation Partners Legacy grant, in partnership with Washington Conservation District.
- In the fall of 2023, planting a diverse array of prairie and shrub species in an oak savanna restoration.
- PFA has helped restore a 17 acre prairie known as Butterfly Landing. PFA and their volunteers assisted with Citizen Science surveys, purchased and spread seed to increase floral diversity for pollinators, and planted over 2000 plugs.
- Implementing a Habitat Enhancement Landscape pilot project in the eastern oak savanna. Activities will include common buckthorn removal, controlled burning and interseeding.
- Follow up buckthorn management in areas where initial buckthorn removal has taken place.
- Sentence to Serve crews are assisting in the deadfall and woodland clean up in cemetery.
- Implementing activities included in the Long Range Plan, such as thinning the pines to improve the stand health, and conducting ecological restoration in the core conservation areas including oak savanna restoration.
- Tree planting in the overflow picnic area, next year planting in the beach area.
- Forestry mowing and controlled burns are planned in the oak savanna restoration units.
- Natural Resource seasonal staff continue to maintain the rain garden at the north half of the park.
- Working with the watershed district to reduce stormwater runoff on the north end of the lake.
- Follow-up buckthorn control in oak savannas.
- Controlled burning in spring of 2024.
- Oak Savanna restoration.
- Pine Plantation management – thinning.