Houlton Farm, photo by Tom Reiter
Houlton Farm, officially named the William H. Houlton Conservation Area, is a 347-acre property located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Elk rivers in Sherburne County. It was one of the largest undeveloped family-owned riverfront properties between Elk River and Hastings. FMR has been working with the city some time to protect and restore Houlton into high-quality wildlife habitat. In December 2015, the Trust for Public Land, with funding from the Outdoor Heritage Fund as recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, purchased the property and transferred the ownership to the city of Elk River.
The William H. Houlton Conservation Area opened to the public fall 2016 (video below). And a Natural Resource Managment Plan has been put into place to return farmfields to prairie habitat and restore the floodplain forest.
Hope and Vision
Over time, 160 acres of farmfields will be converted to native prairie and savanna. This not only restores important habitat types that have experienced tremendous historical decline but replaces a monoculture system (primarily soybeans) with a high-diversity mixture that will benefit wildlife from the ground up. We look forward to monitoring the increase in prairie bird and pollinator populations resulting from these changes. Plus, with their deeper roots, the prairie plants will help retain and filter water, decreasing runoff pollution and erosion entering the Mississippi River. We’ll also be restoring the floodplain forests of the property, removing invasive shrubs that have negative impacts on native plant and wildlife populations.
To receive notices about events at Houlton Farm contact FMR Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator Sophie Downey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To visit, the address is 1801 Main St. NW, Elk River, MN 55330-5600. Please note that this may or may not be the meeting spot for FMR events at Houlton. (It's a large site.) But if you sign up for an event with us we'll be sure to include directions to your meeting spot in your confirmation email.
Funding for this project is provided by the Outdoor Heritage Fund, as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature.