Oak Savanna Workdays

Submitted by admin on Mon, Apr 16 - 9:54 PM

The Mississippi River Gorge is host to a diversity of plant communities and is highly valued by gorge neighborhood residents. This area includes the highest quality plant communities remaining in the River Gorge, including a mesic prairie and a remnant oak brushland/woodland that is undergoing restoration to oak savanna.

Carolyn Carr of Ecological Strategies will train volunteers to carry out the tasks associated with this restoration, including controlling exotic species, maintaining existing plantings, and collecting desirable native seed. (Details on the tasks for each evening will be announced as they draw nearer.)

To sign up to participate in one ore more workdays, contact Volunteer Coordinator sue rich through our contact form.

More about the oak savanna prairie

Sweet clover, garlic mustard, reed canary grass — these plants may have pretty names but they are out of place in a restoration project like the one at 36th Street and West River Parkway in Minneapolis.

Owned by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, this area of the gorge in the Longfellow neighborhood is part of the 72-mile stretch of the river that is designated national park. Thanks to the collaboration of many partner organizations and countless hours of volunteer service for more than ten years, the area that was once a buckthorn thicket is now showing signs of renewed life.

Initial neighborhood funding from the Neighborhood Revitalization Program was leveraged by additional funds from Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the National Park Service, and the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization to total more than $400,000 used to complete hardscape projects such as repair to a sewer outfall at 36th Street and a new staircase near 33rd Street. In addition to these new park structures, funds were used to create a plan for the ecological restoration of gorge plant communities. Communities are assemblages of plants found together in certain soil, moisture and sun conditions, and according to a 1998 county biological survey, the river gorge near 36th Street contains relatively high quality areas of oak forest, oak woodland, floodplain forest, and a remnant mesic prairie. Volunteers have embraced these restoration areas in the past six years by participating in invasive species removal, litter clean up, seed collection, planting, and through strengthening their ties to the gorge at interpretive events.

This summer Carolyn Carr of Ecological Strategies will lead volunteers in continued removal of exotic species like sweet clover, reed canary grass, and garlic mustard. Volunteers will also help with maintenance of existing plantings and the collection and spreading of desirable native seed at this site designated as oak brushland that is being restored to oak savanna. Oak Savanna Workdays are also an opportunity to learn more about this site, a special place for residents of gorge neighborhoods and thousands of annual visitors. Please join us!