The nonprofit Great River Greening leads and promotes community based restoration of natural areas and open spaces. Our team of experienced ecologists and landscape ecologists bring multiple years’ combined experience managing native habitats, conducting natural resource inventories, fundraising for restoration projects on public lands, and engaging nearly 20,000 volunteers.
Through our fee-for-service program, Greening Strategies, we also offer individuals, private organizations, and public agencies a complete range of ecological, design, and volunteer management services. Your fees then feed back into our mission work, in particular, work in those outlying rural communities that do not have the resources or staff expertise for natural resources management.
We have a regional reputation at all levels of community and government. For example the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has come to us for numerous partnerships: management for the Eagle Creek Aquatic Management Area (AMA) adjacent to private housing, the landowner incentive program for the Franconia – Scandia corridor, and restoration of Afton State Park, to name only a few. We are also a member of the Metro Conservation Corridors, a government-nonprofit collaboration of ten partners that has legislative funding for metro area protection and management.
We help communities to leverage expertise, funds, and volunteers
- Site Analysis: assessment of site context, soil condition, topography, hydrology, physical characteristics, cultural features, and existing and potential vegetation
- Natural Resource Inventories: classification, evaluation and mapping of native plant communities, wildlife species, geography, soils, and invasive and rare plant species
- Natural Resource Planning: mapping and analysis of spatial information using GIS software to guide restoration and other conservation activities
- Management and Restoration Plans: recommending goals and strategies for managing, restoring and reconstructing native plant communities
- Restoration and Reconstruction: enhancement of existing natural areas with the reintroduction of species and ecosystem processes, and reconstructing natural areas where no natural vegetation exists
- Invasive Species Abatement: monitoring and control of invasive species
- Prescribed Burning: identifying the appropriate type of burn, creating a burn plan, securing permits and implementing the burn, as well as handling questions from neighbors
Great River Greening has an expert staff of ecologists, designers and restoration technicians.
Wayne Ostlie, Conservation Director (M.A., Botany) is a 20-year veteran in the field of natural resource conservation with The Nature Conservancy. As Science Director of the Conservancy’s Iowa program, Wayne managed the chapter’s preserve portfolio, along with staff and an extensive volunteer network. Later, as Science Director for the Conservancy’s Great Plains Program and then through various roles within its core Science Program, Wayne led and managed an array of programs and high-level projects in furtherance of the Conservancy’s regional and global objectives.
Wiley Buck, Restoration Ecologist (M.S., Wildlife Conservation, University of Minnesota) is responsible for project development and management, particularly for multi-year restoration projects such as Metro Conservation Corridors, a cooperative effort for protection and acquisition in priority areas of the metro, and Bucks and Buckthorn, a youth hunter and ecological education project. He served as Greening’s conservation director in 2004 and 2005. Wiley gained his restoration expertise through his experience with McHenry County Conservation District, The Nature Conservancy, Chicago Wilderness, and the Minnesota DNR’s Scientific and Natural Areas Program (SNA).
Todd Rexine, Design Ecologist (M.L.A., University of Minnesota) is Greening’s expert on ecological design, stormwater management plans, best management practices, urban native plant gardens, and the integration of built and natural landscapes. He has significant installation, computer and budget experience from his years in the private design-build field. He also has a B.F.A. in Studio Art and has worked as an assistant for American Bronze Castings, in addition to continuing in his own sculpture.
Steve Thomforde, Ecologist (M.S., Restoration Ecology, University of Wisconsin, Madison) is responsible for preliminary site assessments, fostering partnerships, assisting with development and design, supervising installation, and cultivating long-term relationships for each project. Steve has nearly 20 seasons experience in project design and installation totaling 200 sites and 2000 acres in four states. At UW-Madison, Steve conducted research in restoration on a variety of topics including: grazing, state transition models, invasive species theory, biotic controls, ecosystem services, and keystone species. His research provides a framework to implement innovative restoration management strategies that are both technically feasible and scientifically valid.
At Greening we believe our work speaks for itself. Completed and ongoing natural area restoration projects include:
- West Side Bluffs, Saint Paul - Greening conducted an inventory of the area and created a management plan that addresses both the human and the ecological needs of this historic natural resource that overlooks the Mississippi and downtown Saint Paul. The plan recommends the removal of exotic invasive species, the installation of native species and creates a strategy to limit erosion, all while maintaining public access to the space.
- Mississippi River Gorge, Minneapolis - Greening conducted an extensive ecological inventory of the site and created a comprehensive management plan designed to reverse cumulative damage to the site’s soil and native plant communities.
- Flint Hills Resources, Rosemount - This ongoing project is designed to restore and reconstruct prairie, savanna and oak woodland areas on the 700-acre Flint Hills property. It is part of the larger Pine Bend Bluffs Natural Area, which has been identified by the DNR County Biological Survey as a site of high statewide biological significance. Greening continues to work with Flint Hills employee and community volunteers to implement the management plan designed by the DNR.
- Mounds Park Bluffs, Saint Paul - This ongoing project is located near culturally significant Native American burial mounds. The Bluffs, which overlook the Mississippi River and downtown Saint Paul, are also heavily used for their scenic value. The restorative design focuses on reducing erosion without obstructing the view, invasive species abatement and periodic prescribed burns.
- Sample of endangered species work: Prescribed burning at Big Marine Lake for management of a population of state-endangered tubercled rein-orchid, and a potential seed bank of state-threatened lance-leaved violet.
- Identify and select planting or restoration sites
- Conduct plant inventories
- Identify potential problems
- Conduct soil analysis and evaluation
- Review plans, designs and stormwater management strategies
- Identify design needs and constraints
- Prepare plant species list
- Identify design strategies
- Prepare landscape designs using native plants
- Give design presentations
- Make cost estimates
- Create ecological stormwater management designs
Example: River Park, Brooklyn Park
- Use inventory and site analysis to develop restoration plans and estimate costs
- Manage and monitor restoration projects for early and long-term phases
- Consult with and assist landowners or managers in implementing management plans
- Develop site preparation plans for various sites and types of plantings
- Coordinate contractors and delivery of materials
- Coordinate utility locations
- Prepare site for planting by volunteer work groups
- Order plant materials or seed and arrange delivery
- Lay out planting site to facilitate planting by volunteers
- Supervise installation by contractors
- Coordinate planting-day activities
- Identify number of volunteers needed and recruitment strategies
- Help develop recruitment methods and materials
- Conduct volunteer supervisor training
- Develop and coordinate planting-day logistics for volunteers
- Plan and coordinate planting-day events
- Conduct training sessions tailored to clients' needs in such areas as maintenance, volunteer planning and supervision and landscaping with native plants.
- Develop adaptive management plans for properties
- Provide technical assistance in managing properties, including maintenance tasks such as burning and spot spraying.
- Monitor and inventory sites to identify potential threats to plantings
- Mitigate lost plantings
"Great River Greening helped the Science Museum of Minnesota create outdoor parks that have tremendous social and educational value. The native planting design Greening created is beautiful, sustainable and, above all, a learning tool for our thousands of visitors."
-Leslie Cook, Director of Development, Science Museum of Minnesota
"Concerned with the needs of the community in which we live and work, the Twin Cities Assembly Plant leadership has partnered with the skilled staff of Great River Greening to implement ecologically sensitive land management approaches for our Mississippi riverfront property."
-Brad Bystrom, Plant Engineering Supervisor, Ford Motor Company, Twin Cities Assembly Plant
"We at the Port Authority are proud of our success in transforming disused lands into community economic assets-success we share with Great River Greening, which has proven extremely adept at meeting our tenants' diverse needs. When we want to make landscaping improvements on riverfront property, we turn first to Great River Greening."
-John Young, Vice President for Industrial Development, Saint Paul Port Authority
To learn more about these services, contact:
Deborah Karasov, Executive Director