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.
- Continued mechanical grazing with Parks staff of buckthorn re-sprouts in the main park area.
- Cover crop program on 24 ac of crop field within the park reserve.
- Oriental bittersweet control south of the maintenance shop.
- Noxious weed control along the main park road for Canadian thistle.
- Rain Garden maintenance.
- CR-4 turtle fence crossing.
- 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. FMR has continued restoring oak savanna within the park and is assisting with the development of a natural resource management plan in partnership and funding from the South Washington Watershed District.
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 providing funding for 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 oak savannas in the central portion of the park, north of ravine landing (Area between intersection #'s 2, 4, 9, 10, 11). Crews will also be thinning 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 2022.
- A special permitted archery deer harvest was held in the fall of 2021 with 7 deer harvested.
- Implementing the ecological restoration plan 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 (94 acres).
- On the west side of Eagle Point Lake, 45 acres of prairie restoration started in the summer of 2021 by Landbridge Ecological. Seeding is anticipated in the spring of 2022 with mowing for establishment.
- On the west side of Eagle Point Lake, 28 acres of prairie restorations were seeded by Stantec and will be hayed for establishment in 2022.
- On the north end of the park, west of the barns, 12 acres of a 24 acre soybean field was seeded to prairie (New state mixes of Pollinator, Dry Prairie and Conservation Grazing Mix). Two wetlands were restored via scraping out sediment that had filled in over years of cropland use with the assistance of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The remaining 12 acres will be seeded in the spring, with mowing for establishment to follow.
- Oak Savanna Restoration (47 acres)
- Around Eagle Point Lake, 47 acres of buckthorn, honeysuckle and amur maple were controlled via prescribed grazing with goats, cover crop of oats being seeded to absorb nitrogen, as well as a spot treatment of herbicide. Buckthorn replacement mix will be seeded in the spring of 2022.
- Prairie Restoration (94 acres).
- 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. Spot mowing and herbicide treatment of canadian thistle, white and yellow sweet clover and spotted knapweed occurred in 2021. Mowing did not occur across the site due to the drought.
- 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. Pollinator Friendly Alliance seeded the site in late winter of 2021, the area was mowed and spot treated in late summer/fall of 2021.
- A special archery permitted deer harvested was held at Lake Elmo Park Reserve and Sunfish Lake Park, with 44 deer being harvested.
- A breeding bird survey was implemented throughout the park to monitor efforts associated with and without ecological restoration efforts.
- A tree survey was updated in 2021, data will be used in ash tree population density reductions next to high use areas. 150 ash trees anticipated for removal.
- Natural Resource seasonal staff conducted noxious weed control for wild parsnip, common tansy on the west half of the park reserve. Canadian thistle control efforts were made along the main park roads/active use areas.
- Natural Resource seasonal staff gathered prairie seed within the park for use with restorations.
- 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.
- This method is again being used on the west half of the park on an 8 acre site being restored by Stantec.
- Continuing to develop a plan to implement conservation based grazing (Bison or Cattle) on the west half of Lake Elmo Park Reserve to help maintain grassland.
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.
- An archery deer harvest was held, with 28 deer being harvested.
- 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. Trees were treated in the spring/summer of 2021.
- Implementing conservation based grazing and haying north of the main park road.
- 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.