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!
Ever wonder what keeps FMR ecologists up at night? Buckthorn and crown vetch may have pretty glossy leaves or flowers, but for anyone who cares about wildlife, they're a serious threat to forest and prairie habitat in the metro river corridor.
Join FMR ecologist Alex Roth for a walk through our most common invasives: buckthorn, bush honeysuckle, garlic mustard, burdock, spotted knapweed and crown vetch. Along the way, you'll learn why they matter and how to identify and remove them in your own back yard. All in two minutes!
Thank you Tom Reiter and Will Stock for creating this wonderful video!
FMR ecologists were surprised to find that many of the trees we'd planned to remove at a North Minneapolis riverfront restoration site were taken care of by an anonymous, furry volunteer. (Photo courtesy Mississippi State Extension office as we were unable to catch her or him in the act.)
With the second phase of native prairie restoration set to begin at Ole Olson Park along the North Minneapolis riverfront, FMR is grateful for the help of an unlikely partner.
On a recent rainy October morning, volunteers from 3M helped FMR ecologists install over 300 cottonwood live stakes near the river in Hastings. Vital for wildlife and floodplain forests, cottonwoods have not been regenerating along the river. In 2013, FMR began a series of experimental plantings to help restore these imperiled icons. So far, live staking appears to be a promising method.
A key species of floodplain forests, Eastern Cottonwood trees aren't regenerating naturally in the floodplains. FMR ecologists and volunteers are using cottonwood cuttings or live stakes to re-establish a floodplain forest in Hastings.
St. Paul Park refinery employees and community volunteers installed over 300 native plants at Prairie Park with FMR this summer. The planting was designed to especially benefit pollinators and serve as a demonstration prairie for homeowners interested in providing backyard habitat. Left to right: Eric Folsom, Todd Bjorgo, Dean Stockwell, Ben Joppa (FMR intern), Corb Hopkins, Kathy Schik. (Not pictured: Tom Bell.)
Two phrases not often used together are “prairie planting” and “oil refinery,” but many years ago employees at the St. Paul Park Refinery noticed a small patch of native prairie on company property and they've been taking care of it ever since. Recently, they worked with FMR to expand the natural area and also install a demonstration garden, hoping to inspire even more native plantings for pollinators.
Never unederestimate the power of a pollinator patch!
What can a small planting of milkweed and other natives really do for pollinators? More than you might think.
Hastings Environmental Protectors and FMR teamed up to create three new pollinator patches, helping to provide much-needed habitat for a variety of insect and pollinating species in the Vermillion and Mississippi river watersheds.
A trio of endangered species recently found at FMR conservation and restoration sites. Left to right: Loggerhead shrike, Blanchard's cricket frog and Henslow's sparrow. Photos by Terry Ross, Greg Schecter and Scott Krych.
Plant and animal populations decline for many reasons — habitat loss, climate change, pollution and other factors. The Endangered Species Act was enacted in 1973 to prevent the decline and extinction of at-risk species and aid their recovery. At FMR, one of the ways we can best benefit endangered species is through the enhancement or restoration of native habitat. FMR’s many restoration sites do just that, providing much-needed habitat for both common and endangered plants and animals.
While the Endangered Species Act has benefitted countless species, we’d like to think our restorations have as well. We've spotted three endangered species — loggerhead shrike, Blanchard's cricket frog and Henslow's sparrow — at our sites so far this year!
Students from Elk River High School sample invertebrates from a stretch of the Mississippi River. These aquatic insects are excellent indicators of water quality.
With restoration work at the William H. Houlton Conservation Area slated to start this fall, students from the local Elk River Senior High School have begun to collect baseline data to help FMR track the restoration's impact on local amphibians, plants, trees and aquatic invertebrates.
Thank you for your interest in joining the pollinator patch planting event, however this event has reached capacity and registrations are no longer being accepted. Please consider volunteering at one of our other upcoming events. To view the most up-to-date listing, check out the Events Calendar.