Volunteers clearing brush at the Camp Coldwater site.
First season of restoration at Coldwater Unit a success!
Since acquiring management of the Coldwater Unit in January 2010, the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area has been moving forward on a long term project to restore the land. Planning is under way for the removal of roads and buildings on the site, and restoration of the land has already begun. Now cluttered with abandoned buildings and invasive species, Coldwater was once a stunning oak savanna and tall grass prairie. Working with community volunteers, we plan to restore the land to its native state, rebuilding the beauty of the natural landscape and helping native plant and wildlife communities to survive and thrive as they once did.
Throughout the summer season, MNRRA hosted a series of volunteer events at which enthusiastic members of the community devoted their day to help remove invasive species. Invasive species are one of the major factors in ecosystem change and instability, and are a huge problem at Coldwater. Volunteers hauled brush and stumps out of forested areas, stacking it in enormous piles for later removal by District Energy, Saint Paul. The mounds of European Buckthorn will then be converted into fuel and fully recycled into energy for local homes and businesses.
Thanks to the efforts of volunteers and park personnel throughout the summer, you can already see a big change. Thick areas that were infested with European Buckthorn just months ago have been cleared. Big, lush trees have been uncovered and you can see the oak savanna beginning to emerge. The passion of the volunteers was awe-inspiring, and it was apparent by all their hard work that restoring the site was as meaningful and important to them as it is for us at the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area.
Future steps to fully restore these 29 acres of National Park land will include planning and active restoration efforts by park staff, partner organizations, visitors, and the community. There are many opportunities for individuals and groups to volunteer for habitat restoration efforts. Together we can help make positive changes while respecting natural, cultural, historical, and spiritual elements of the site. THANK YOU to all of the devoted volunteers who helped make the first season of restoration at Coldwater a success!
Restoration Begins at Coldwater Unit
The 27 acre former Bureau of Mines site was once a stunning oak savanna and tallgrass prairie, where oak trees reached out across fields of flowing grasses and wildflowers and native wildlife flourished. Over the years, this land has gone through many changes, and today you will find the landscape to be quite different. Not only are there buildings and roads throughout the site, but it is also overrun by invasive plants which out-compete native species within this habitat.
By working together with partners and community, the park will strive to restore natural beauty and function to the area by converting it to open space/park land. Included in current plans are invasive plant removal, reintroduction of native plant species, and removal of roads and buildings. The historic spring house and reservoir will not be removed, as they hold cultural and historical importance.
During the weeks of June 9-16 and June 23-30, the Great Lakes Exotic Plant Management Team will be at the Coldwater Unit of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area to help us take the first step toward a restored ecosystem. Working under the Exotic Plant Management Program of the National Park Service, the team combats the threat of invasive species, utilizing specialized knowledge and experience in invasive plant management. Restoration of native ecosystems, like the oak savanna and prairie that has been lost here, is the ultimate goal of the Exotic Plant Management Program. The team has partnered with MNRRA to help manage the huge problem of invasive and non native plants within the park corridor at the Coldwater Unit, promoting the mission to preserve native habitats for the enjoyment of future generations and to restore functioning native ecosystems.
By managing invasive plants like European Buckthorn, Garlic Mustard, and Black Locust, it is possible for the native trees, grasses, and wildflowers to rebound. Future steps to fully restore these 27 acres of National Park land will need to include active restoration efforts, including planning and support of park staff, partner organizations, visitors, and the community. There are many opportunities for individuals and groups to volunteer for habitat restoration efforts. Together we can help make positive changes while respecting natural, cultural, historical, and spiritual elements of the site.