By Bruce Karnick
Vermillion Linear Park? WHAT ON EARTH IS THAT? The section of land between County Road 47, Vermillion Street, Bohlken Drive and 31st St. W. There is a trail that leads behind Applebee’s and eventually makes its way to the bridge on 47 by the county shop. That path goes through Vermillion Linear Park. Yes, it has an official name. Now that you know what is being talked about, what is going on?
Over the course of the last few weeks, activity has picked up in VLP to continue with the restoration plan. Piles of invasive trees were burned and this week, additional, native trees will be installed. Alex Roth of Friends of the Mississippi River gave an update on work being done.
The ongoing work at Vermillion River Linear Park is part of a larger project started in 2015. FMR wrote a natural resources management plan to guide restoration of the park in 2014, and has been bringing state grant funding to the project ever since. The first phase of the project tackled 14 acres of restoration on the northwest corner of the park – some prairie restoration along 46/47 and forest and woodland restoration along the river.
The second phase, which began in 2017, tackled another 7 acres of prairie and forest restoration along the river on the east end of the park. See VERMILLION Page 3 Vermillion
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The current work (Phase III) is tackling 27 acres of prairie restoration in the southwest and central portions of the park, including the main spillway swale. All of the woody invasive removal and pile burning is now complete, and this spring crews will continue to prep the degraded grassland areas by removing the non-native, invasive vegetation. In late May or early June, crews will drill seed a mixture of about 30 species of native grasses and wildflowers that will improve habitat for pollinators and wildlife, water quality, and park aesthetics.
The tree installation is a side-project of this third phase of work. FMR had some additional funding, which we’re using to have our contractor (Applied Ecological Services) do a small streambank stabilization project, which will help stymie erosion and decrease sedimentation into the river. They’re using spruce and cedar trees removed during the tree clearing step and anchoring them into an eroded section of the bank, helping to divert flows away from the bank and stabilize the existing slope. The spruce and cedar trees will also have an additional benefit of providing shoreline habitat for fish.
If you would like to see the restoration plan, you can find that on the City of Hastings webpage. www.hastingsmn.gov/city-government/ city-departments/parks-recreation/ park-projects