Cenaiko Lake is part of the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park. It is a man-made lake that is adjacent to the Mississippi River. The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area has worked with the Anoka County Parks and Recreation Department to restore prairie habitat to the banks of the lake. Cenaiko Lake is able to support three types of prairie; tallgrass prairie is established closer to the shore, while mixed and shortgrass prairies are growing in the middle and upper sections of the bank, where it is drier.
The Prairie Restoration Process:
Now, the restored prairie at Cenaiko Lake is well on its way to being reestablished. Efforts now are focused on maintaining the restoration through periodic fires and mowing. Man-made fires mimic the natural conditions, prior to fire suppression, and are important because they keep the woody species from invading the prairie. Native prairie species have extensive root systems, grow from their bases at ground level, and rebound quickly. Without fire, woody species would take over and the prairie would eventually become forest. Mowing the prairie mimics the periodic grazing by bison and elk maintaining the diversity of the prairie and variety plant height and density.
Help from volunteers who regularly visit the site and pull exotic species such as Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense) has also been key to the project's success. As the prairie matures and becomes more established, the Thistle will become less of a problem. The result of this project is a self-sustaining, diverse prairie that is a beauty to behold.
Last updated: February 16, 2019