Natural Resource Management
- Natural Resource Management
- Big Marine Park Reserve
- Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park
- Lake Elmo Park Reserve
- Grey Cloud Island RP
- Pine Point Regional Park
- St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park
- Square Lake
The Natural Resource Coordinator oversees and implements land stewardship activities throughout the 4,400 acre park system.
Become a Washington County Parks Citizen Pruner!
A Citizen Pruner class is being offered for people who love trees and want to volunteer in Washington County parks. In exchange for the training, volunteers will provide a minimum of 10 hours of pruning in Washington County Parks for two consecutive years. (Class limit: 10 participants)
CLASS: two components, offered by University of Minnesota Tree Care Advocates Program
- Presentation: via Zoom, Thursday, June 24, 3:00-4:15.
- Hands-on training Saturday, June 26, at Lake Elmo Park Reserve, 1515 Keats Ave N, Lake Elmo. Volunteers sign up for 1 of 2 half-day sessions. Safety protocols followed.
After the training volunteers complete an online competency assessment to receive a volunteer card and certificate of completion.
PARTICIPATION: Open to any adult, 18 years or older, who commits to 10 hours/year for 2 years of volunteer pruning in Washington County Parks
FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO REGISTER: https://learning.umn.edu/search/publicCourseSearchDetails.do?method=load&courseId=28505979 (please copy this address into your browser)
- Implementing conservation based haying within grassland.
- Continued mechanical grazing with Parks staff of buckthorn re-sprouts in the main park area.
- Oriental bittersweet control south of the maintenance shop.
- Noxious weed control along the main park road including Canadian thistle.
- No controlled burns were implemented this year.
- Implementing conservation based grazing/haying within grassland plant communities, with some oak savanna restoration integrated.
Friends of the Mississippi River
- Restoring over 62.5 acres of Oak savanna, Dry prairie within the southern half of the park. In 2020/2021 buckthorn will be cleared on the east side of the trail north of the new building, as well as on the slopes outside of the Central Draw Overflow Storage Area.
South Washington Watershed District
- Goats were used to set back garlic mustard and common buckthorn within the central draw overflow storage area. Efforts are continuing this winter with fuel load reductions within the ravine with Sentence to Serve crews cutting and burning downed wood.
- South Washington Watershed District is helping develop an ecological restoration implementation plan for the entire park with assistance from Friends of Mississippi River.
- Goats were used to set-back garlic mustard and buckthorn in areas north east of Ravine Lake around intersection #3b.
- Natural Resource seasonal staff spot sprayed buckthorn re-sprouts in 60 acres of oak savanna restoration areas.
- Sentence to Serve crews are helping with fuel load reductions in a 25 acre oak savanna restoration unit to prepare it for a future controlled burn, and thinning mesic trees such as box elder, ash and hackberry to allow for more sunlight to enter the groundlayer. A controlled burn is anticipated in the spring of 2021.
- Continuing to monitor the deer population.
- Implementing the ecological restoration plan that is being developed in partnership with SWWD and FMR.
- Developing a firewood program to assist with fuel load reduction efforts in the park.
- Implementing a conservation based haying or grazing system on the NE portion of the park to improve the grassland habitat.
- Washington County received a $390,000 metropolitan conservation partners legacy grant for over 166 acres of oak savanna and prairie restoration on the west half of Lake Elmo Park Reserve.
- Prairie Restoration (28 acres). In the fall of 2020, 28 acres of prairie restoration site preparation and monitoring started. This included implementing a monitoring protocol, removing box elder, Siberian elm, amur maple and cottonwood, mowing smooth brome/Kentucky bluegrass dominated areas and herbicide. These areas will be burned in the winter of 2020 if there is no snow.
- Oak Savanna Restoration (47 acres) In the fall of 2020 47 acres of buckthorn, honeysuckle and amur maple are being removed on the west, south and south eastern sections of oak savanna along Eagle Point Lake. Park users can expect crews hand cutting, and skidsteer with a large mulcher grinding the buckthorn. Signs are also going to be posted along the trail talking about the project.
- Washington County received a $50,000 expedited conservation partners legacy grant (part of the Outdoor Heritage Fund Grant) for a prairie restoration for the Rusty patched bumblebee SW of the North barns in Lake Elmo Park Reserve. Due to partnership with Washington Conservation District and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. We were able to expand the original planting from 32 acres to 48 acres. The prairie was planted in the spring of 2020 and was mowed throughout the growing season. Mowing is anticipated through 2021.
- Washington County received a $50,000 expedited conservation partners legacy grant for oak savanna restoration on the north half of Eagle Point Lake. Common buckthorn and honeysuckle were removed in the winter of 2019 without herbicide. In the summer of 2020 the area was grazed two times to knock back shrub re-growth. In December, sections are being mechanically grazed to prepare the site for a winter seeding using seed donated by Pollinator Friendly Alliance.
- Continue to monitor the deer population for future harvest.
- A breeding bird survey was implemented throughout the park to monitor efforts associated with and without ecological restoration efforts.
- Continue to monitor for emerald ash borer and implement ash tree population density reductions next to high use areas.
- Natural Resource seasonal staff conducted noxious weed control for wild parsnip, common tansy on the west half of the park reserve. Efforts were also made to control queen annes lace, spotted knapweed along trails, and white sweet clover. Lastly, Canadian thistle control efforts were made along the main park roads/active use areas.
- Natural Resource seasonal staff spot sprayed and used a walk behind brush mower for common buckthorn and honeysuckle in oak savanna restoration areas.
- Natural Resource seasonal staff gathered prairie seed within the park for use with restorations.
- Monthly Natural Resource volunteer group and individuals assisting with management efforts.
- Sentence to serve crews have been assisting with thinning in prairie and oak savanna restoration areas as well as gathering dead and downed wood to prepare sites for future controlled burns.
- Goats were used to control buckthorn re-sprouts in oak savanna restoration areas.
Great River Greening/Butler Family Foundation
- Butler Family Foundation in partnership with Great River Greening helped establish 24.5 acres of prairie production plots at Lake Elmo Park Reserve on the north end of the park reserve, south of the barns. The fields were planted in spring, fall and winter of 2018, mowing is occurring during 2019 to help natives establish followed by weed control in 2020. In the fall of 2020, GRG and volunteer groups helped collect native seed out of the plots.
Xerces Society and Pollinator Friendly Alliance
- Utilizing the Xerces Society Organic Site Preparation Methods resource manual, the parks is utilizing a soil inversion method on 4 acres of former cool season grass north of the Rustic Campground. Grasses and forbs were planted in 2019 with site mowing in 2020.
- Evaluate and develop options to implement conservation based grazing (Bison or Cattle) and or haying systems to restore and maintain oak savanna and prairie within Lake Elmo Park Reserve.
The park is not currently open to the public and efforts are not currently underway for managing the resources.
Pollinator Friendly Alliance
PFA has helped restore a 17 acre prairie known as Butterfly Landing. PFA and their volunteers have aided with Citizen science surveys, purchasing and spreading seed to increase floral diversity for pollinators, and planting over 2000 plugs. In 2020, PFA helped install interpretive signs and develop a partnership with a local farmer to hay the prairie to help establish the forbs due to the state restrictions associated with implementing a controlled burn.
Implementing activities included in the master plan such as thinning the pines to improve the stand health and conducting ecological restoration in the core conservation areas including oak savanna restoration.
Washington Conservation District/St. Croix River Association/South Washington Watershed District, Pollinator Friendly Alliance
- In partnership with Washington Conservation District and St. Croix River Association, over 10 acres of former Ag field and turf grass was recently planted to native perennial vegetation in June of 2019. In addition to using a native seed mix, plugs were planted as part of the project. Areas will be mowed throughout the 2019 growing season.
- In partnership with WCD, SCRA and SWWD, PFA, WC will be planting over 18 acres of prairie at SCB in fall of 2020/spring 2020 with 10 acres of adjacent oak savanna restoration.
- Continuing to monitor the deer population.
- Noxious weed control with natural resource seasonal staff for Canadian thistle, common tansy.
- Two lined chestnut borer, in combination with bur oak blight is impacting many trees along the main park road and in the campground. A contract has been developed to help control and mitigate the impact of the bug in the spring of 2021.
- Implementing conservation based grazing and haying north of the main park road.
- Submitting grants to continue oak woodland restoration along the river.
- Washington County is developing a Master Plan. efforts are being made to guide future actions.
- Park Maintenance Staff are conducting mechanical grazing on oak svanna restoration units close to the beach.
- Park Maintenance staff will be removing Ash trees infected with Emerald Ash Borer in the winter of 2020/2021. Tree plantings will follow in the spring of 2021.
- Natural Resource seasonal staff continued to maintain the rain garden at the north half of the park.