Neighborhood volunteers are helping restore prairie land starting Sunday with help from a $ 56,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources as well as professional help from contractors and planners.
The Jackson Meadow Neighborhood Association is working with the Town of Marine in St. Croix to restore some of its land by removing non-native species while strengthening wetlands, reseeding grasslands, and supporting appropriate shrubs and trees. , according to MRN officials. In partnership with Critical Connections Ecological Services Inc. and Landbridge Ecological, 30 acres of land is expected to be restored within two and a half years.
“I lived in Jackson Meadow for 20 years, and that area was pretty open,” said Kevin Nyenhuis, resident of Marine on St. Croix and member of the Jackson Meadow Neighborhood Association and Open Space Committee. “In the meantime trees and shrubs and things like that have grown up, and we’re going back to what was really sort of considered to be true of the landscape before it was occupied by citizens.”
The land is owned by both the city and the Jackson Meadow neighborhood.
COLLECTION OF INDIGENOUS SEEDS
Local volunteers will kick off the effort by collecting seeds from native plants on Sunday before the land is cleared of non-native trees, shrubs and buckthorn, Nyenhuis said. The native seeds will then be used later in the spring for restoration purposes.
“During the winter, these seeds will be stored in a cold, dry place,” said Kristina Smitten, also a Marine resident in St. Croix and a member of the Jackson Meadow Neighborhood Association and the Open Space committee. “Being able to collect the seed and use it will save us a lot of money compared to the purchase. “
Since the land is both private and public, the trails are used for public recreation, such as cross-country skiing, hiking, and other low-impact activities that don’t involve motorized vehicles, said Charlie Anderson, Marine City Councilor in Sainte-Croix. The restoration process would potentially bring back pristine prairies that less than 1% of Minnesota owns, according to Anderson.
“It’s going to take him back to a near pristine state,” Anderson said.
CONSERVATION PARTNERS LEGACY PROGRAM GRANT
The project began with Critical Connections Ecological Services Inc. who developed a management plan for the Jackson Meadow lands. Planning included examining native soil types and plant ecology to identify what the original habitat would look like and how best to support restoration, Smitten said.
However, a section of the prairie to the north needed more attention than the volunteers could provide, according to Smitten. The Jackson Meadow Neighborhood Association, along with the city, applied for and received a Conservation Partners Legacy grant, allowing them to hire the contractor, Landbridge Ecological.
Smitten said the grant allows the prairie to be worked by local volunteers in tandem with professional help.
“It’s a special community where things like sustainability are really showcased, as well as seamless integration into the surrounding landscape and the management of open spaces,” Anderson said. “[The project] only works if the people who live there understand and appreciate what they have and… desire to work to recapture the unique landscapes we see in the Sainte-Croix Valley region.
Volunteers will collect seeds at Jackson Meadow from noon to 2 p.m. on Sunday, October 11, with parking available on Jackson Trail. Volunteers are requested to bring gloves and mowers.
For more information on these organizations, readers can access their websites: https://www.jacksonmeadow.com/; https://www.marineonstcroix.org/; https://www.ccesinc.com/; https://landbridge.eco/.