Riverside Park in St. Paul Park

Limestone edge along river

Located along the backwaters of the Mississippi River, this 14-acre park hosts an array of native woodland plants and serves as an oasis along the Mississippi River flyway for migratory birds.

Where is Riverside Park?

Riverside Park is a mostly forested site located along the backwaters of the Mississippi River in St. Paul Park. Situated just south of FMR’s restoration sites on Marathon's land and across Highway 61 from FMR's restoration project at Camel’s Hump Park and Open Space, together these projects create links in a conservation corridor along the east side of the Mississippi River in the southern metro.

The public is welcome to visit Riverside Park. (See the City of St. Paul Park's webpage for more info.)

Our work here takes place on Dakota homelands. Learn more.

What's special about Riverside Park?

Most of Riverside Park sits perched on a limestone bluff above a back channel of the Mississippi River. Limestone outcrops can be found throughout the park, but the bluff wall is best seen from the water or, when water levels are low enough, from the small part of the park that is floodplain forest.
 
Historically, the park was mostly oak savanna, which developed on thin soils over the bedrock. Relics of that history can still be seen in the scattered large bur oaks with spreading branches found throughout the park.
 
As wildfires and other disturbances were suppressed, the plant community shifted from savanna to forest, and woodland species appeared, including Dutchman’s breeches, bloodroot, wild ginger, wild geranium, hairy Solomon’s seal, white baneberry and wild leek. But without management, common buckthorn has also moved in, and many of the native species have declined. We're working to increase native plant diversity as we remove buckthorn. These efforts can improve water quality and bring wildlife benefits.
 
Due to its location along the Mississippi River, which is the migratory corridor for 60% of North American bird species, many bird species frequent this site, especially in spring. Bring your binoculars, and you might see golden-winged warblers, northern parulas, black-and-white warblers and others.

Our work at Riverside Park

In 2018, FMR completed a natural resource management plan for the park, including an evaluation of current and historical conditions, target plant communities, goals and restoration methods. Since then, we have been able to obtain funding from the Outdoor Heritage Fund of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment and have been conducting restoration work throughout the park.
 
Our restoration efforts have focused primarily on the removal of invasive species that can take over and suppress natural diversity. This is often our main goal, since native plant diversity is the basis for a resilient natural community that supports a variety of wildlife species. Our primary species of concern has been common buckthorn, but we're removing garlic mustard, narrowleaf bittercress and invasive hedge parsley as well.
 
We're also working on the restoration of a small grassland near the park entrance by controlling invasive plant species, conducting prescribed burns and seeding native prairie species.
 
Community volunteers have played an important role in reducing the invasive herbaceous species. We're grateful to the volunteers that participate in stewardship events to hand-pull these plants each year. Because of our work together, we've significantly reduced the target species populations.

Other project partners, especially Mississippi Park Connection and the Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa, have also contributed greatly to the control of these species. The City of St. Paul Park has been a very supportive partner in all these restoration efforts.

Find out more and get involved

Partners and funders for our work at Riverside Park

This work was made possible by 3M Foundation, BNSF Foundation, the City of St. Paul Park, the Outdoor Heritage Fund, Mississippi Park Connection, the National Park Service, RBC Wealth Management and Xcel Energy, and by our generous volunteers and donors like you!

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