Crosby Farm Regional Park
Nestled at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, this hidden St. Paul gem is home to 534 acres of floodplain forest and oak woodlands tucked under the bluffs of the Mississippi River. Wetlands surround Crosby Lake while limestone and sandstone outcroppings line the north side of the park.
Crosby is a natural floodplain at the end of the Mississippi River Gorge. Floodplains can support rich ecosystems, containing more species and nutrients than the river itself. When periodic flooding causes the river to spill over, water and sediment flood the adjacent land and fish and other aquatic species are carried to the lakes and ponds scattered throughout Crosby's forest. A healthy floodplain also provides natural filtration and flood storage for stormwater runoff before it enters the river.
Today, Crosby Park is threatened by exotic invasive species, careless recreational use, and urban runoff from streets, lawns, and waterways. Runoff is a major source of urban flooding and water pollution, and is of special concern in a floodplain such as this. Native plantings help reduce the damage as their extensive root systems filter floodwater by allowing for nutrient storage and pesticide breakdown in the soil. The health of the floodplain prairie at Crosby Park is intimately tied to water quality in the Mississippi River.
Accomplishments So Far
FMR has partnered with the Capitol Region Watershed District and the City of Saint Paul Parks to restore four acres of floodplain prairie habitat at the Crosby Farm Natural Area. Volunteers have planted, watered, and mulched almost 2,000 native prairie plants and the park now boasts a beautiful new interpretive prairie, a runoff-reducing berm and a raingarden. In the demonstration prairie, species name markers educate the public about prairies and native Minnesota plants. Volunteers also help protect a rare patch of spring ephemerals through the Crosby Park Pledge-to-Pull program each spring.
Hope and Vision
While work is well underway at this site, volunteers are essential for its continued preservation. Volunteers are vital in every step of the restoration process, from installing new plants, to tending them through invasive species removals and other tasks, and assisting with other tasks as needed.
This project is part of FMR's Gorge Stewards Program, engaging more than 1,200 volunteers over the course of 43 restoration outings and cleanups. In addition to on-the-ground restoration efforts, Gorge Stewards volunteers also enjoy educational programs at the park. With the help of volunteers like you, restoration of this floodplain habitat at the Mississippi River Gorge will produce multiple benefits, for the river and for the community.