2018 highlights show commitment to water quality and pollinators

2018 highlights show commitment to water quality and pollinators

In response to growing concerns over water quality and the decline of pollinators, Great River Greening expanded our work in 2018 to protect Minnesota’s waterways and build diverse habitat for our pollinators.

Thanks to our volunteers, donors and community partners, we:
Restored 1,460 acres of public land and put 2,200 acres of agricultural land into conservation practices to decrease erosion, restore wildlife habitat, and safeguard ground and surface water.
Hosted 58 restoration events, across Minnesota, joined by 2,418 volunteers.
Planted 7,526 trees and 54,118 pollinator-friendly wildflowers and grasses.
Engaged 600+ kids and teens in caring for our natural world.

Safeguarding ground and surface water in Greater MN




SE Minnesota is a new region for GRG. In 2018, we began work on reforesting and restoring prairie in Sunktokeca Wildlife Management Area (WMA): 200 acres of new public land near Faribault.

More restoration of natural areas in the watershed is planned as part of a larger effort by GRG, Trust for Public Land, and Cannon River Watershed Partnership to protect and improve the land and habitat in this fast developing area.

Volunteers worked in the Anoka Sand Plain, a unique and vulnerable ecological region that acts as a critical filter for the aquifer that provides the Twin Cities’ drinking water. They planted 210 mature trees and 7,500 wildflowers and grasses in Carlos Avery WMA and along the Rum River Shoreline that will improve filtering strength of the soil.

In Seven Mile Creek, in St. Peter, GRG continues to lead a partnership of farmers, government, business, and residents in finding environmental solutions in this agriculturally-rich region.

In 2018, we worked with a dozen landowners to use more than 2,200 acres of land to significantly reduce runoff, phosphorous, and nitrogen from their farms. Solutions included installing buffer strips and cover crops, such as rye, turnips and wheat, planted in between rows of corn or soybeans.

Creating habitat for bumble bees & other pollinators

In 20 favorite urban natural areas throughout the metro area, volunteers pulled invasive buckthorn and planted common milkweed, butterfly weed, wild white indigo, lupine and other native species that improve soil conditions and attract butterflies and other pollinators. The sites include:

  • Lebanon Hills (Eagan)
  • Crosby Farm (Saint Paul)
  • Doyle Kennefick (Elko New Market)
  • Westwood Hills Nature Center (St. Louis Park)
  • Oheyawahe/Pilot Knob (Mendota Heights)
  • MN River, near the MN Valley Wildlife Refuge (Bloomington)
  • Minnehaha Creek (St. Louis Park)
Kicking off a Pollinator Seed Initiative

An effort to establish seed nurseries for common milkweed, butterfly weed, wild white indigo, lupine and other plants, as a back-up source for native seed shortages

In Woodbury, 75 Volunteers planted 5,000 pollinator-friendly plants in a species-style format, on communal space nearby a school that will also feature education signage.

In Shakopee, Xcel day of service volunteers planted four acres at the Xcel Energy Blue Lake Generating Plant.

Other Initiative site partners include Dodge Nature Center, Dakota County, Xcel Energy, and Washington County. Support is from The Patrick and Aimee Butler Family Foundation.

Connecting kids and teens to the outdoors

Students from Laura Jeffrey Academy spent an afternoon at Hidden Falls in Saint Paul as part of Field Learning for Teens, where they planted pollinator-friendly wildflowers and tested the water for healthy microvertebrates.

28% of the volunteers at our restoration events were youth, including children who come with parents to our family-centric events, and students with teachers and other school groups.

In our Field Learning for Teens Program, 277 teens spent the day in this outdoor classroom focused on introducing and educating youth of color about the science of restoration, green jobs, and the role they can play in caring for the environment.


Thank you to the funders of programs mentioned in this story, including:

FLT: Andersen Corporate Foundation, The Beim Foundation, Capitol Region Watershed District, Ecolab Foundation, Mortenson Family Foundation, Subaru of America Foundation, and Terracon Foundation

Seven Mile Creek and Agricultural Watersheds Program: Clif Bar Family Foundation, McKnight Foundation, New Belgium Brewing Company, and Rahr Corporation.

Feature photo: Doyle-Kennefick is a planned regional park located in Central Scott County that features prairie, wetland, and forest. Great River Greening is restoring it in partnership with Scott County. In 2018, 150 volunteers joined us to plant 5,000 pollinator-friendly wildflowers and grasses. (Credit: Bruce Nimmer)