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River Heights Park SAVED!

Residents and River Guardians helped save this park!

Inver Grove Heights residents, including many FMR River Guardians, helped save this park!

After hearing from dozens of community members (including many FMR River Guardians), the Inver Grove Heights city council unanimously voted to save River Heights Park on Monday, May 14. 

The council had been considering carving up and selling the 7.5-acre undeveloped natural area as three 2.5-acre lots for housing developers. Instead, the city, FMR and neighbors are going to work together to make the park more accessible — adding a park sign and bench, with details to be determined — while keeping it a natural area and restoring important bird habitat. >>

May 15

Burn, baby, burn...but only when we say so!

An April prescribed burn rolls through a blufftop prairie at the Flint Hills Pind Bend Bluffs property.

An April prescribed burn rolls through a blufftop prairie at the Flint Hills Pind Bend Bluffs property. (Photo by Karen Schik.)

Spring has officially sprung, and with it comes those familiar signs of life: plants begin to green, flowers bloom, migrating birds return, and fires burn through the prairies at FMR restoration sites!

Learn more about how we use fire to restore wildlife habitat, and the impact of a recent unplanned fire on an FMR restoration site. >>

May 7

What's your city planning for its riverfront? Find out and weigh in.

Workshop participants look at maps

Earlier this spring, river planning workshop participants Ann Erickson and Kent Petterson pore over corridor maps to identify resources they want to see protected in local city plans.

This year all 25 cities and towns in our metro Mississippi corridor, our local national park, are updating their city plans to be in accordance with new state river corridor rules.

Whether you only have a few minutes or want to organize your neighbors to weigh in, we can help you have a say in shaping your local riverfront! >>

April 9

Introducing the FMR Conservation Map!

Although our policy and advocacy work tends to make the most headlines, many FMR supporters, members and volunteers highly value the natural areas we protect, restore and enhance throughout the metro area.  But even the longest-standing FMR members and volunteers wonder where, exactly, we work.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way for folks to see all of FMR’s 37 active restoration sites in one place? Perhaps some kind of…map? >>

April 9

What's the best way to control buckthorn and protect native plants? FMR investigates.

A native ladyslipper plant, a mowed stretch of forest, a glossy buckthorn plant and a bobcat/forestry mower

We set up a new research project in Hampton Woods (top left) to control buckthorn (top right), and seeing how different methods (such as the forestry mower, bottom right) best protect and encourage native plants (like the yellow ladyslipper, bottom left).

What pops to mind when you think of restoring a forest? Perhaps people planting trees? ...How about bobcat-like machines busily eating up small trees and spitting out the splinters?

If you'd visited Hampton Woods this spring, this is exactly the scene you would have come across. The machines were forestry mowers, consuming invasive European buckthorn.

Not only were the mowers benefiting the long-term health of the forest, but they're part of a new FMR research project to compare and contrast the effectiveness of different methods to both control buckthorn and support the growth of native plants and habitat. >>

April 5

Special Places: Minneapolis' riverfront Above the Falls

View of downtown Mpls from the Lowry bridge

View from the Lowry Bridge in North and Northeast Minneapolis looking south towards downtown.

To celebrate our 25th year, each month in 2018 FMR staff will profile places along the metro Mississippi River that are near and dear to us, places that connect to FMR but that we also enjoy in our own downtime. By the end of our silver year, we'll have built a map of 25 special river places for you and yours to learn about, visit and enjoy.

This month: Minneapolis’s riverfront Above the Falls.

The Minneapolis riverfront north of St. Anthony Falls is an interesting juxtaposition of the natural, urban and industrial. Here you can enjoy bike and pedestrian trails, or rent a kayak to see a heron rookery, restored prairie, riverfront raingarden parks and sculptures, as well as industrial relics. You'll also want to visit often over the next decade to experience the changing riverfront, as more industrial sites are converted into public parklands.

February 12

If you build it, will they come? Investigating whether restored habitat means more wildlife.

A red fox ventures into an open, grassy area.

Bird surveys and wildlife cameras (one of which captured this red fox on film) have long provided a glimpse of how wildlife use our restoration sites. But recently we've been greatly expanding our monitoring to include amphibians, reptiles, pollinators and other insects.

Since the creation of our land conservation program over 20 years ago, FMR has protected, restored or enhanced over a thousand acres of prairie, forest, wetland and other types of wildlife and pollinator habitat in the metro area. But does increasing native habitat result in the return of native animals?

Learn about bird surveys, wildlife cams and our work with local high schools to find out. >>

February 9

Of snow and foresty mowers — a glimpse at our behind-the-scenes winter work

Forestry mower

One of the many types of forestry mowers used on FMR projects, often a bobcat or skidsteer with a modified front attachment.

You may think winter is the offseason for FMR’s outdoor work – a time when our ecologists are huddled inside for warmth, writing reports and grants, and pining for spring. But restoration work doesn’t stop because of snow. In fact, some tasks are specifically timed for the cold season, and set the stage for work throughout the year.

January 8

A shocking, long-awaited outing — The 2017 volunteer trout survey

“It’s been three years of cancellations with high water in the river and getting rained out," said volunteer Tom Ziegler with a smile. "They [FMR] dangle this carrot when we do the buckthorn removal across the road, that if we did that job, we would get to do this event.”

Well, 2017 was finally the year. >>

November 14

A big new prairie is on the way!

The farm field at the William H Houlton Conservation Area about to be turned into prairie

An aerial view of a prairie in progress. On the left: stubble left over from the fall soybean harvest. On the right: the half of the field worked up for broadcast seeding native prairie species.

It's not every day that FMR ecologists get to convert 180 acres of soybean and farm fields back to native prairie. Sure, we return park lawns and buckthorn thickets to prairie every year, but individual project sites rarely crack the 100-acre mark.

So we're especially excited about beginning the large-scale transformation at the William H. Houlton Conservation Area in Elk River. Check out some photos from the first steps of creating this much-needed pollinator and wildlife habitat at the confluence of the Elk and Mississippi rivers! 

November 13

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