Help restore wildlife habitat at the William H. Houlton Conservation Area

Event Date: 
Saturday, June 13, 2020 - 9:00am to 11:00am
William H. Houlton Conservation Area, Elk River
An ecologist's hand holds up a prairie skink in front of the restored prairie at Houlton Farm

Prairie skinks were not present at Houlton when FMR began restoration work there. Now, skinks are moving back in, thanks to the restored prairie.

Join Friends of the Mississippi River staff and volunteers for a morning furthering restoration work at the William H. Houlton Conservation Area (a.k.a. Houlton Farm). The William H. Houlton Conservation Area is a 335-acre property located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Elk rivers and is one of the largest undeveloped riverfront properties between the cities of Elk River and Hastings.

FMR staff and ecologists will provide a brief introduction to the site and an overview of how to identify and pull the weedy invasive plants we'll be targeting. By removing these species we will be making way for important native plants that have been crowded out by these aggressive invaders. These native plants, in turn, will provide habitat for wildlife. Over our time working at the site we've seen an increase in bees, butterflies, and small reptiles. Volunteers may also be asked to assist with other restoration tasks as needed.

All are welcome, and as always, all training, gloves, and necessary tools will be provided. However, registration is required and capacity is limited.

More about this site

FMR has been working with the City of Elk River and other partners to help protect and restore the property. In 2014, FMR assisted in the site's protection, with the Trust for Public Land ultimately purchasing the land and transferring ownership to the city (thanks to funding from the Outdoor Heritage Fund as recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).

Since then, FMR has been working with the city to restore this property to high-quality wildlife habitat.

Progress to date includes the completion of a natural resource management plan, removal of invasive shrubs from over 150 acres of forest, and seeding prairie and savanna species on 180 acres of farm field and degraded grasslands. This work not only restores and enhances important habitat along the Mississippi River but replaces a monoculture system (primarily soybeans) with a diverse mix of plants that will benefit wildlife from the ground up.

Ready to register?

Please contact FMR Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator Sophie Downey at, 651.222.2193 x27, or by selecting Sophie by name under "Category" via the FMR contact form. Please include the name of the event, your name, address and phone number and the number in your party.

You will receive a confirmation email from within two business days. (If you don't, please check your spam folder.) 

If you're under 18 and interested in volunteering without the company of your parent or guardian, please take a moment and have them fill out this brief minor permission form.

Can't make it?

To receive notices of future volunteer events, contact FMR Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator Sophie Downey at, or by selecting Sophie by name under "Category" via the FMR contact form. Or, visit our events calendar for our most up-to-date listing of upcoming events. To receive a twice-a-month e-newsletter including all FMR activities and news, sign up for Mississippi Messages.

What about coronavirus?

We're watching the CDC and Minnesota Department of Health guidelines closely. If plans change based on their recommendations, FMR Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator Sophie Downey will email registrants with event updates. (Be sure to add to your contacts so updates don't land in spam.) And we'll update this page if anything changes.

If this event does proceed as planned, it is unlikely we will have masks but we'll continue to offer gloves and hand sanitizer.

The City of Elk River, The Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Connexus Energy and the Friends of WHHCA.