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River access, wildlife habitat, year-round recreation: Cottage Grove’s unique opportunity

People enjoying park

A Mississippi Dunes park in Cottage Grove could create access to the river throughout the seasons. (Illustration by Kimberly Boustead and Emily Sauer)

The City of Cottage Grove has the opportunity to turn an old golf course into open space for wildlife and a recreational park for residents and visitors in an area lacking in river access. Here are our top reasons why we should protect this special place from development.  >>

May 25

Meet our elusive, big brown trout

The Twin Cities is home to a rare trophy trout stream known for these not-so-brown trout. (Photo by Latham Jenkins, Circumerro Stock.) 

In a cold prairie river just 20 or so minutes south of St. Paul, large brown trout gather in the shadow of red-twig dogwoods, willows and other stream-side plants. Learn more about these wily and beautiful reminders of the importance of protecting our local waters, and how you can help protect them. (Hint: Volunteer at our Vermillion watershed events on 5/23 and 6/22!) >>

May 15

Ecological research and monitoring at FMR

SPA monitoring

St. Paul Academy students sample for earthworms, an invasive species in Minnesota, at Crosby Farm Park in St. Paul. Our work there helps us understand the impacts earthworms have on native plant diversity, so we can refine and prioritize our habitat restoration efforts.

FMR has worked to restore over two thousand acres in the Mississippi River's metro watershed. Our hope is that diverse natural communities of plants and wildlife will return and thrive. And so far, our surveys and studies point to a positive connection between our habitat restoration work and the plants and animals our work is meant to support.  >>

River Heights Park saved, restoration begins!

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. >>

September 19

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

View from River Oaks in Cottage Grove

Identifying scenic vistas, like this view of Hastings from Cottage Grove, is an important component of the local river corridor planning now underway.

Cities up and down the metro Mississippi are busy finalizing their local river corridor plans, but there's still time to weigh in. Some deadlines to submit comments are fast approaching, including July 17 for Cottage Grove and July 22 for Minneapolis. Learn where your city's at in its process and how you can have your say in the shape of your future 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 see 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

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

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

Big news: Bluffs, shorelines and scenic views protected!

The Mississippi River Gorge from St. Paul by Jim Hudak

Our local national park, the Twin Cities stretch of the Mississippi River, is now protected by FMR-prompted state rules. (Photo by Jim Hudak)

At long last, new State of Minnesota rules are now in place governing land use and development along the metro stretch of the Mississippi River, a.k.a. our local national park! While allowing for growth and redevelopment, the new rules protect the metro riverfront's natural, scenic and cultural treasures. 

December 27

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