By Bruce Karnick [email protected] As keenly observed and noted on the Hastings Community Facebook page by Viktoria, there has been extensive removal of trees in Vermillion Linear Park. …
By Bruce Karnick
As keenly observed and noted on the Hastings Community Facebook page by Viktoria, there has been extensive removal of trees in Vermillion Linear Park. Vermillion… linear… what? Yes, Vermillion Linear Park. That chunk of land between Bohlken Drive and County Road 47, (north to south) and Vermillion street behind Applebee’s to 31st st. (east to west) has a name. It’s called Vermillion Linear Park.
According to the Friends of the Mississippi’s 123-page Natural Resource Management plan, Vermillion Linear Park (Linear Park) is a 60-acre city park located in Hastings, MN. It is owned and managed by the City of Hastings, MN. The park is located between the Vermillion River’s intersection with Highway 61 and it’s intersection with Highway 46-47 (approximately 3800 feet long and 500 feet wide), and is a long, linear area that roughly follows the channel of the river. The site was designated as prairie in pre-settlement, which agrees with the soil data and also with the historic aerial photos. Today, about 150 years after settlement, the site has experienced many changes and has been altered quite significantly. A dump that was located at the northern and western end of the park site was operated by the City for several years during the twentieth century. More significant, though, were alterations made to the channel. In response to a record flood in 1965, an entire meander was removed from the river (just north of the park, upstream of the river’s intersection with Highway 46-47) and a levee was constructed to hold floodwaters from spilling into a nearby residential neighborhood (the natural floodplain) to the north of the channel. Another component of the flood abatement project was begun in 1979 when a large area south of the channel was excavated to receive floodwaters in lieu of loss of the natural floodplain to the north. This spillway, or “Bypass Channel” is under the jurisdiction of the US Army Corps of Engineers, but is managed by the City of Hastings.
See Tree Removal Page 2
Currently there are several piles of invasive trees, Chinese Elms, that have been removed from the tree lines in Vermillion Linear Park. Three of the five piles visible from 31st street can be seen here. The piles are slated to be burnt in the near future by the Hastings Parks Department. Photo by Bruce Karnick. Tree Removal
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The plan has been in process for about two years and will continue for a few years more. “Unfortunately, these things take time,” Parks Director Chris Jenkins explained. “Removal of invasive species needs to take place to allow the native species to flourish and repopulate the area.”
That is exactly what has been happening recently in both Vermillion Falls Park and Vermillion Linear Park. The invasive species, such as the Chinese Elm Trees and Buckthorn are being removed to allow the native species to thrive. “Once we get the majority of the invasive species removed, maintaining it should be much easier in the future. In many cases, it’s likely we could run through with a brush cutter eliminating sprouts of the unwanted species, maybe a few times a year,” Jenkins added.
“If you take a walk along the path from 21st street east to the old railroad bridge and look in the ravine, you will see what the removal of invasive Buckthorn can do for the area. It is much more open and usable. People can comfortably explore the ravine now, and soon, native species will begin to return on their own and with the help of the Friends of the Mississippi,” Jenkins said.
For the time being, the open spaces may look odd, or even ugly, but just like a surgery to fix something in our bodies, the healing process does take time, and, in the end, the native species will be better off because of it. The biggest benefit to removing the invasive species and letting the native species grow back is, the native plants and trees are much better for native wildlife. This includes the various birds and other critters that thrive in prairie grasses, including pollinating insects.
What is the short-term plan for all the invasive trees piled up in Vermillion Linear Park? “We’ll most likely burn them,” Jenkins said.
Burning is a safe way to dispose of invasive species because it kills off any chance of them dropping seeds during transport or spreading seeds if used as mulch, which is a key piece is preventing further spread in other areas of town. The Chinese Elm species can be a pretty tree, but it does choke out native trees and grasses and it spreads quickly, so it is important to mitigate any chance of spread at every opportunity.
As this is a small part of the park restoration plan, we would like to encourage you to at least browse through the entire 123-page plan on the City’s website. It includes many interesting and historical photos and descriptions. Some of the technical stuff can be a bit tough to read, but it is a well put together document and lays out the plan nicely for Vermillion Linea Park. Thank you, Viktoria, for the wonderful story idea and for exploring our parks! If you have other story ideas from around town, please email [email protected]ournal. news If you would like to be more involved in the planning process for our Parks and Recreation in Hastings, please consider joining the Parks and Rec Commission. Details can be found on www.hastingsmn.gov Here is the URL to the Natural Resource Management Plans for the City of Hastings.
https://www.hastingsmn.gov/city-government/city-departments/ parks-recreation/park-projects/natural-resource- management-plans If that does not work, visit www.hastingsmn.gov. Click on RESIDENTS > PARKS & TRAILS (under Things to Do) > PARK PROJECTS (at the bottom of the page in the blue bar)