Plant Life

2013 Woodland Restoration Project

Grant awards totaling nearly $175,000 will enable the restoration of oak woodland and savanna through removal of buckthorn and other undesirable species. T

he res

toration plan includes the application of herbicide to kill undesirable tree and shrub species, the mechanical

removal of treated trees and shrubs, follow-up controlled burns and additional herbicide application to kill missed and newly sprouted trees
and shrubs. Target

species for removal include common buckthorn, prickly ash, tartarian honeysuckle, Siberian elm, and some eastern red cedar  will be removed this winter.   This process will involve loud machinery such as grinders, skids, tractor trailers, loaders, and specialized cutting equipment. The material harvested from the woodland is set to be prepped in the nearby agricultural fields and loaded for transport off site. Semi tractors will be hauling many loads of woody materials to bioenergy facilities.

Upland Areas

Oak savanna is the native plant community in the upland part of the park. Older burr oak and northern pin oak trees are scattered throughout this area, and the wide expanse of the branches indicates that they grew under open, sunny conditions with room to spread. More recently, eastern red cedar, buckthorn, and prickly ash grew into space beneath the oaks that would otherwise have been prairie grasses and wildflowers.

Observant visitors during the summer and fall months may spot some of the native plants, including Indian grass, little bluestem, pussytoes, prairie smoke, and thimbleweed in some of the sunny openings. Oak savanna (as happened with natural lightning-caused fires) could benefit from controlled burning and removal of non-native, invasive species (buckthorn and prickly ash especially).

Wetland Areas

The river lowlands along the Rum on the west side of the park include floodplain forest and marsh native communities. The wooded floodplain trees include silver maple, red maple, cottonwood, green ash, box elder, and black willow. The marshes in the backwaters include cattail, sedges, and prairie cordgrass.

One important reason to preserve the woodlands and the marshes along the riverbank is the ‘filtering’ function, acting as a buffer for rainwater and runoff before it enters the river flow, filtering out pesticides and pollution. Over 50% of Minnesota’s wetlands have been lost to filling, draining, and relocation, making the remaining wetlands especially important to water quality.

The Rum River in particular is the direct link connecting Mille Lacs lake to the Mississippi River.

RRNA Tree and Plant Census, October 2001

Canopy species Scientific name Subcanopy species Scientific name
Quaking aspen populus tremuloides Prickly ash zanthoxylum americanum
Box elder acer negundo Common buckthorn rhamnus cathartica
Eastern cottonwood populus deltoides Honeysuckle lonicera sp.
Silver maple acer saccharinum Staghorn sumac rhus typhina
Sugar maple acer saccharum Grey dogwood cornus foemina
Red maple acer rubrum Black cherry prunus serotina
Green ash fraxinus pennsylvanica Common hackberry celtis occidentalis
Bur oak quercus macrocarpa
Northern pin oak quercus ellipsoidalis
Northern white cedar thuja occidentalis
Eastern red cedar juniperus virginiana
Other identified species
American basswood tilia americana Red pine pinus resinosa
American hornbeam ostrya virginiana Sandbar willow salix exigua
American plum prunus americana Speckled alder alnus rugosa
Black willow salix nigra White spruce picea glauca
Eastern white pine pinus strobus Pussy willow salix discolor
Elm ulmus sp.
Jackpine pinus banksiana
Grasses and other species
Bedstraw galium sp. Virginia waterleaf hydrophyllum virginianum
Bloodroot sanguinaria canadensis Smooth broom bromus inermis
Blueflag iris iris versacolor Sedges, incl. fox sedge carex sp.
Bluegrass poa sp. Reed canary grass phalaris arundinacea
Cattail typha latifolia Raspberry rubus sp.
Giant goldenrod solidago gigantea Prairie cordgrass spartina pectinata
Gooseberry ribes sp.
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