Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Getting Ready for Spring!

Post contributed by Matt, Conservation Corps Youth Outdoors Crew Leader:
Youth Outdoors crew member planting
native seeds in the hoop house
With the spring thaw finally coming, it’s time to start planting again!  For the past few weeks the Conservation Corps of Minnesota (CCM) has been working on removing common buckthorn, red mulberry, honeysuckle and other invasive plants from the Saint Paul Parks and Recreation (SPPR) park system.  Now that the weather is getting warmer, CCM and SPPR will start planting native plant species to replace the invasive plants that have been removed.  This is an important step in the restoration process because it guards against erosion and helps native plants establish themselves in an area.
To get an early start on this the CCM has been helping SPPR with preparing sugar maple, purple prairie clover and a variety of native Minnesota prairie grass seeds for planting.  Both youth and adult CCM crews worked to separate and clean seeds that had been collected from the Saint Paul Park System and then plant them in trays to get ready for final planting in the parks.  The youth involved in this project had a great opportunity to learn about how native plants are essential for conserving our water resources and preventing erosion.  Over the course of two days the CCM prepared and planted 532 sugar maple seeds, 490 purple prairie clover seeds and 1062 prairie grass seeds in starter trays.

Mixture of native prairie grass seeds
The Minnesota prairie grass seeds and the purple prairie clover will both be used to augment and restore natural prairie area within the Saint Paul parks system.  Minnesota once had 18 million acres of prairie land but this has dwindled down to 150,000 acres.  Prairies help Minnesota's water cycle with their deep root systems and provide a natural habitat for native animals.  Native prairie plants come in a wide array of shapes sizes and colors so they add a great aesthetic to our park system as well.