Neighborhood volunteers are taking part in the restoration of prairie lands starting Sunday with the aid of 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 making an effort with the City of Marine on St. Croix to restore part of their land by removing non-native species while reinforcing wetlands, reseeding grasslands and supporting appropriate shrubs and trees, according to DNR officials. In partnership with Critical Connections Ecological Services Inc. as well as Landbridge Ecological, 30 acres of land are planned to be restored within two and a half years.
“I’ve lived in Jackson Meadow for 20 years, and this area was quite 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 this have grown up, and we’re taking it back to what was really sort of understood to be true of the landscape before (it) was occupied by citizens.”
The land is owned both by the city and by the neighborhood of Jackson Meadow.
COLLECTING NATIVE SEEDS
Local volunteers will kick off the effort by collecting native plant seeds 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.
“Over the winter that seed will be stored in a cold, dry place,” said Kristina Smitten, also a resident of Marine on St. Croix and member of the Jackson Meadow Neighborhood Association and Open Space committee. “Being able to collect the seed and use it will save us a lot of money versus having to buy it.”
Since the land is both privately and publicly owned, trails are used for public recreation, such as cross country skiing, hiking and other low-impact activities that do not involve motorized vehicles, said Charlie Anderson, city councilman for Marine on St. Croix. The restoration process would potentially bring back undisturbed prairies of which less than 1% of Minnesota holds, according to Anderson.
“This is going to bring it back to almost a pristine condition,” Anderson said.
CONSERVATION PARTNERS LEGACY PROGRAM GRANT
The project started with Critical Connections Ecological Services Inc. putting together a management plan for Jackson Meadow’s land. Planning included looking at soil types and native plant ecology to identify what the original habitat would look like and how to best support restoration, Smitten said.
However, a section of the meadow in the north required more attention than volunteers could provide, according to Smitten. The Jackson Meadow Neighborhood Association, along with the city, applied for and received a grant through the Conservation Partners Legacy Program, allowing them to hire the contractor, Landbridge Ecological.
Smitten said the grant makes it possible for the meadow to be worked on by local volunteers in tandem with professional help.
“It’s a special community where things like sustainability are really emphasized, as well as a seamless integration into the surrounding landscape and stewardship of open space,” Anderson said. “[The project] only works if the people that live there understand and appreciate what they have and … desire to work to recapture the unique landscapes that we see in the St. Croix valley area.”
Volunteers will be collecting seeds at Jackson Meadow from noon to 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 11, with parking available on Jackson Trail. Volunteers are asked to bring gloves and clippers.
For more information about these organizations, readers can access their websites: https://www.jacksonmeadow.com/; https://www.marineonstcroix.org/; https://www.ccesinc.com/; https://landbridge.eco/.