Shoreline restoration project near Elko New Market welcomes volunteers

By MISTY SCHWAB mschwab@lonsdalenewsreview.com

Restoring the shoreline of Doyle-Kennefick, a planned regional park near Elko New Market, is a volunteer opportunity for those who enjoy planting. Great River Greening is looking for around 50 volunteers to help Sept. 15. (Photo courtesy of nimerphoto.com)

An volunteer opportunity Saturday near Elko New Market is open to families throughout Rice and Scott counties, asking them to dig in the dirt and make a difference.

The project takes place in Doyle-Kennefick, a 490-acre planned regional park in Scott County northwest of Elko New Market between St. Catherine and Lennon Lakes.

The last time the nonprofit Great River Greening recruited volunteers for this land restoration project was in the fall of 2015. Welch said around 120 people volunteered, and this time she expects around 50 to participate.

“Most people really have a good time; that’s why they come out,” said Mary Anne Welch, outreach and communications manager for Great River Greening. “Planting is something everyone enjoys doing, even little kids. You can enjoy the gorgeous fall day and make an impact along the way.”

Scott County purchased the farm land in Doyle-Kennefick, which dated back to the 1860s, and granted the original owners’ wish to keep it a natural area. The completed regional park will include over 1,000 acres of landscape – trails, prairie, a recreation area, woodland and lakes.

In 2015, the nonprofit Great River Greening came on board with the project to recruit community volunteers in the restoration process. Great River Greening involves the work of ecologists who both develop a management plan and recruit community members to help with part of the work.

Other partners and funders of the restoration project include Three Rivers Park DistrictOutdoor Heritage FundNational Turkey Federation, and Scott-Le Sueur-New Prague Minnesota Waterfowl Association.

Doyle-Kennefick’s date of completion is yet to be determined, so the shoreline restoration offers the community a rare glimpse into the work in progress as they lend a helping hand.

“We make it a point of it being family-friendly, and you don’t need any particular skills,” said Welch.

Volunteers who attend the event help restore the shoreline by pulling buckthorn, planting native shrubs and releasing milkweed seeds. According to Welch, releasing the milkweed seeds is especially fun for children because it’s similar to popping a dandelion.

“Milkweed is an essential pollinator attractor for the monarch butterfly,” said Welch. “Right now we’re facing a crisis with pollinator population, so we want to be mindful about providing pollinator habitats for clean water.”

Welch said restoring the shoreline is essential for improving water quality as it prevents erosion. A clean shoreline means clean water filters into the lake.

A healthy habitat also means clean water. Since buckthorn does nothing for water quality, Welch said removing them from the shoreline creates a healthier environment for diverse plants.

Volunteers are needed from 8 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15 at 4150 235th St. East, Cedar Lake Township. Snacks and lunch will be provided.

Reporter Misty Schwab can be reached at 507-744-2551. Follow her on Twitter @APGmisty.

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