Farm Field to Forest Project starts with 23 bushels of acorns

Great River Greening will soon be seeding a new forest in a new 200-acre Wildlife Management Area, Sunktokeca WMA, located northeast of Faribault.

The project is part of a larger effort by Trust for Public Land (TPL) and Cannon River Watershed Partnership to protect seasonally flooded wetlands, improve habitat, and open more outdoors to the public. Much of this region, which has been agricultural, is undergoing change and its close proximity to the metro area makes it popular for new development. TPL acquired Sunktokeca WMA and conveyed it to the MN DNR to be managed as a WMA.

GRG is providing project management and ecological expertise and involving community partners, such as Bailey Nurseries, which is storing recently collected acorns to be planted later this fall. Other species planned for the forest include black walnut, basswood, kentucky coffee tree, highbush cranberry, and choke cherry.

“These trees will add much needed habitat for wildlife in a part of Minnesota which had been mainly forested in the past.”  -Becca Tucker, GRG project manager.

Steve Huckett, GRG director of conservation programs, said working with this partnership “gives GRG the opportunity to work across six counties in Greater Minnesota, with a focus on habitat restoration, improvement to water quality, and public engagement.”

The new WMA will be open to the public for hunting and fishing. It will also provide much needed habitat for non-game, pollinators, and neo-tropical bird species providing many opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts and sportsmen.

Becca says 10 of 30 acres will get direct seeding this fall. The rest will be started next year and maintenance of the site will be ongoing for a few more years.

23 Bushels of acorns just a start

It will take a lot of seed to reforest Sunktokeca WMA. This fall, 23 bushels of native white and burr oak acorns were collected from the Cannon River Watershed region. They are awaiting the fall planting in a cooler that was generously donated by Bailey Nurseries.


(Project partners: Trust for Public Land, Cannon River Watershed Partnership, MN DNR, Bailey Nurseries OAK PHOTO: Eli Sagor Creative Commons)