Native Prairie Restoration: Fall 2020 Update

By Steve Poppe, Horticulture Scientist

October 2020

Planting of Bur Oak treesProgress continues on the 17-acre native prairie habitat below and south of the Pomme de Terre Overlook. Our main objective is to create a local ecosystem for beneficial pollinators and native species of plants as well as offer educational opportunities for visitors. 

Prairie Restorations, Inc. of Princeton, MN has been coordinating the native plant restoration and management in this project area. Continued applications of recommended herbicides were applied throughout the summer to eradicate/control undesirable species in this project area. They plan to dormant seed native species either this late fall, before freeze-up or in the spring of 2021. All wildflower seed will be applied by broadcasting and all grass seed will be interseeded with a no-till seed drill. The upper hillside and areas along the trail will be seeded with short/dry prairie species. The general site will be seeded with mesic prairie species and the ditches/wet swales will be seeded with wet prairie species. 

One of our collaborators on the project, Kristin Lamberty, from the University of Minnesota Morris Computer Science Department, along with her students, are developing interactive and educational materials to go along with the restoration site. They are developing two parts of the pollinator education portion of our project: 1) the participatory simulation for use in classrooms or informal learning venues (now called “Buzz About”) and 2) the pollinator facts website for use throughout the community where they plan to place links to enable viewing facts and exploring further from there. 

Planting of 50 Bur Oak trees took place on this site on September 21st. These trees will add to the historic prairie savannah landscape and may also help sustain various species of wildlife.  These oak trees of various sizes were grown and planted by Swedberg Nursery of Battle Lake, MN.  

We have been consulting with JLG Architects out of Fargo, ND, to design the two educational wayside rest areas and informational kiosks. After an initial site visit, we determined the best two locations for the structures given the landscape, topography, accessibility and view. One kiosk will be located in the southern area of the restoration site, while the other will be to the north. Both structures will look identical to each other, except for being orientated on opposite sides of the existing trail.  We’ve also identified how many signs will be installed at each structure, and Esther Jordan has been working with our partners to develop content and interpretation for the signs and brochures. Cement footings for the wayside rest structures were poured in late September.

Funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). The Trust Fund is a permanent fund constitutionally established by the citizens of Minnesota to assist in the protection, conservation, preservation, and enhancement of the state’s air, water, land, fish, wildlife, and other natural resources. Currently, 40% of net Minnesota State Lottery proceeds are dedicated to growing the Trust Fund and ensuring future benefits for Minnesota’s environment and natural resources.