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Restored prairie takes shape

When work started on the Rosemount Wildlife Preserve, the task was big. A hay field had to be turned into a natural prairie and a buckthorn-riddled oak forest had to be cleaned out.

“The buckthorn was so dense you couldn’t walk through,” said Karen Schik, restoration ecologist for the Friends of the Mississippi River.

Today, the hay fields have been replaced by native prairie that provide a good home to pollinators. The oak forest has been cleared of invasive species that threatened it.

“It’s been a long process but a good one,” said Schik.

The city of Rosemount and Friends of the Mississippi River started restoration work on the 26-acre preserve in 2006.

And while there will always be some work to do, Schik said the project has come to a point where maintenance will be the main objective.

Recently, the city of Rosemount and Friends of the Mississippi River entered into a new restoration contract that reflects that.

The preserve is located within the natural greenway corridor known as the Northern Dakota County Greenway. Parks director Dan Schultz said while the wildlife preserve isn’t an area used much by people, it plays an important role. The preserve serves as crucial habitat for animals including deer, birds, and insects.

The wildlife preserve is located in the north-central part of Rosemount. In 2005, resident Aina Wicklund sought permanent protection for 26 acres of property through a conservation easement. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Dakota County Farmland and Natural Areas Program and the city teamed up to purchase the easement. In 2006, Wicklund donated 16-acres to the city.

Friends of the Mississippi River has led the effort to restore the wildlife preserve with support from other local institutions including the city of Rosemount, SKB Environmental Rosemount Foundation and the Vermillion Watershed Joint Powers Organization. The city received a $45,000 grant through the DNR to assist with the initial restoration.

The city and Friends of the Mississippi River have both dedicated money to the ongoing efforts to battle buckthorn and maintain the prairie.

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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