Connecting a favorite regional park to a new city park adds to health of wildlife and the river

Crosby Farm Regional Park is one of Saint Paul’s largest parks, comprising 730 secluded acres along the Mississippi River where hikers enjoy wooded slopes, wetlands, and small backwater lakes.

Situated right off Shepard Road, one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares, it is a popular tranquil gem with 6.5 miles of trails that connect to the 9-mile Sam Morgan Regional Trail, to the east, and Hidden Falls Regional Park, to the west.

Saint Paul purchased Crosby in the early 1960s, seeing it as an important component in protecting the biodiversity of the Mississippi River corridor. It had been farmed for 100 years prior to that, which created a disturbed floodplain forest that quickly filled in with box elder and weedy trees.

In 2005, Saint Paul engaged Great River Greening to create a plan to bring diversity back to the land.

Becca Tucker, project manager for Great River Greening, says “healthy floodplain forests have a great diversity of plant and animal species that serve as migration corridors for water fowl and songbirds.” She adds that pools within the forest provide habitat for amphibians and reptiles.

For over a dozen years, Great River Greening has involved the community in restoring this regional park. We recently began working in Lower Crosby Farm, an undeveloped area where the city plans to add trails that will connect the floodplain to the new 40-acre Victoria Park on the bluffs overlooking Lower Crosby.

Victoria Park is not yet open to the public, but we have been partnering with the city since 2015, bringing volunteers to the site to plant trees and flowers in what was once an oil tank farm.

“These parks are not only beautiful, they are critical connections to miles of trails that bring people outside, and the river corridor that is so important to bird migration and other wildlife. It is a privilege to be a partner with Saint Paul and engage the community in the health of this land and water.” Deborah Karasov, Great River Greening Executive Director.

top Photo: Crosby Farm Regional Park copyright