Many people have been taking advantage of the gorgeous spring by exploring some of Elk River’s many parks, including Bailey Point Nature Preserve (BPNP), located at 1 Morton Avenue. If you’ve been to this 24-acre nature preserve located along the confluence of the Mississippi and Elk Rivers, you’ve likely noticed some work in progress. Friends of the Mississippi River (FMR) is in the midst of year-two of their four-year State of Minnesota grant funded preservation project at BPNP.
Over the winter, crews finished invasive woody species removal, getting things closer to the ultimate goal of a savanna (the historical plant community on site), both in terms of tree density and species composition. Next up is a final prep of the seeding areas, which will knock back the weeds and invasive grasses that are popping up this spring. That step should occur over the next week or two, followed by crews seeding the site with roughly 35 diverse species of grasses and wildflowers in early June. Once seeding is completed crews will conduct establishment mows on the newly growing prairie to control weeds and stimulate root growth.
In the time leading up to seeding, a contractor will be on site disposing of logs taken down as part of the invasive woody species removal portion of the project, however some random stick/branch debris will remain as this naturally occurs and is important to the ecosystem of a true nature preserve. Additional mowing and spot spraying will occur periodically throughout the next couple of years to control non-native vegetation and allow the savanna to establish.
In the years to come, visitors can expect to see a variety of colors as the wildflowers and native grasses become established. A mature prairie is expected in three to five years which will provide vital habitat for many animal species and critical pollinators. Explore this and other city parks by exploring Elk River’s Park Map.