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

Event Date: 
Saturday, May 29, 2021 - 9:00am to 11:00am
William H. Houlton Conservation Area, Elk River
Volunteers show off their invasive haul at the 2020 event tending Houlton Farm

This event has reached maximum capacity. Read below for instructions to sign up for the waitlist, and we will contact you if anyone cancels their spot for this event. Or, see our full event calendar to choose a different volunteer opportunity.


Join Friends of the Mississippi River staff and volunteers for a morning furthering restoration work at the William H. Houlton Conservation Area (or 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 garlic mustard and other 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 invasives. 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.

Before you register

The worksite for this event is only accessible by a long walk, around half a mile. Once at the site, volunteers will be working on uneven terrain with cut stumps.

Ready to register?

While this event is full, you can still sign up for the waitlist. 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. We will contact you if a spot opens up.

Can't make it?

To receive notices of future volunteer events, contact FMR Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator Sophie Downey at 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 COVID-19?

We've modified our events during the pandemic to be smaller, and allow for individuals to work while safely six feet apart. All tools will be sanitized between events, and all gloves provided are unused in 2020 or 2021. Once registered, volunteers will receive a full list of safety precautions and guidelines. You can read more about our policies here.

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.

We will offer gloves and hand sanitizer at the event. Volunteers are required to bring and wear their own masks.

Thank you to our partners and funders: BNSF Foundation, the City of Elk River, Connexus Energy, the Outdoor Heritage Fund, the Friends of WHHCA, RBC Wealth Management and Xcel Energy.