Above the Falls River Stewards — N & NE Minneapolis



Volunteers work in the riverside prairie at Ole Olson Park

Upstream of downtown in North and Northeast Minneapolis, the Above the Falls riverfront is an area in flux. Characterized by low banks interspersed with parks and heavy industrial use, much of this oft-neglected prairie river stretch awaits improved public access as well as restoration. However, many parks and trail improvements are in the works as part of the award-winning Minneapolis Above the Falls Master Plan, created by the Above the Falls Community Advisory Committee (of which FMR is a member). 

Above the Falls River Stewards

Through the Above the Falls River Stewards program, FMR provides opportunities for education, access and hands-on restoration to further this urban river revival.

Activities include:

To receive notices of upcoming Above the Falls educational and volunteer events, contact FMR's Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator at volunteer@fmr.org, 651-222-2193 x27. 

Parks we work in

Volunteers work at the Sheridan Memorial Park raingarden

Volunteers planting in the raingarden at Sheridan Memorial Park.

Sheridan Memorial Park

In the summer of 2014 FMR volunteers installed numerous native plants in a strategically planned raingarden in one of Northeast Minneapolis's newest parks, Sheridan Memorial. Raingardens help to filter runoff pollution from nearby roads, parking lots and industrial sites, as well as create habitat for local butterflies and bees. FMR looks forward to watching the raingarden grow and tending to it over the years. We're also proud to partner with Sheridan Neighborhood Organization, the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board and other local agencies on this newly created riverfront park. Learn more here.

Ole Olson Park

Located just off the bike trail the demonstration prairie is home to showy flowers and grasses will not only beautify the park but provide much-needed bee, butterfly and bird habitat. The prairie plants also reduce the amount of pollution flowing into the Mississippi River thanks to their deep root systems filtering the water and holding soil in place. Although a small urban site, Ole Olson is home to a surprising diversity of landscapes, including riverfront shoreline, woodland terrace and grassland slopes. Working with the city parks department and relying on local volunteer power, we look forward to transforming the park into a habitat oasis — returning willows to the shoreline, wildflowers to the slopes and oaks to the terraces. (Check out our volunteers in action at this beautiful river-front park. Photos by Tom Reiter for FMR!) Learn more here.

Nicollet Island

We began planning our work here in 2017 in partnership with the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO) and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. We wrote a natural resources management plan for the natural areas on the island's northern half in early 2018. With additional funding from MWMO, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the Nicollet Island-East Bank Neighborhood Association, we began restoration the following year. The goals of our restoration work are to remove invasive species, enhance degraded forest areas through increasing diversity and adding climate-adapted tree and shrub species, create new, diverse habitat — including 2 acres of native prairie — tackle erosion projects, and re-create the pocket of maple forest historically present on the island (mentioned above). This work will grow pollinator and wildlife habitat, increase climate resiliency, improve recreation, and help to reduce sedimentation and nutrient transfer, improving water quality. Learn more here.

Additional locations

FMR also works with youth and neighborhood groups at James Rice Park, Bassett's Creek Park and other local parks. Thanks to our involved partners and funders we are actively growing the Above the Falls program and look forward to developing plans for further educational and hands-on restoration events at additional locations

Youth and group events

Students from 21st Century Academy stenciling a storm drain

Youth from 21st Century Academy stencil storm drains in the Above the Falls area.

FMR partners with local schools, youth groups, churches, businesses, corporate volunteer groups and community organizations to stencil storm drains in their community, organize cleanups and participate in local habitat restoration projects such as invasive species removals. If you know of a local youth, church or scout group, or a summer or after-school program in need of an active and educational outing that serves the river, please let us know!

Stay in touch!

If you'd like to be notified of future events Above the Falls in North and Northeast Minneapolis, please let us know! Contact Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator Sophie Downey at volunteer@fmr.org, 651.477.0925. Thanks and we look forward to being in touch! 

Upcoming Events

Tuesday, June 25, 2024 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Nicollet Island, Minneapolis
New date: Saturday, August 10, 2024 at 5 p.m.
Hidden Falls Regional Park, St. Paul
Wednesday, August 14, 2024 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Pine Bend Bluffs Scientific & Natural Area, Inver Grove Heights