ACD Receives Fish & Wildlife Funds to Conserve Pollinators

ACD was recently awarded National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Monarch Butterfly and Pollinators Conservation Funds to increase habitat for the monarch butterfly and other pollinators. ACD is collaborating with Sherburne County Parks and Great River Greening to restore and enhance habitat and create pollinator corridors within the Anoka Sand Plain region. This funding will help support and expand state programs such as the Anoka Sand Plain Partnership and the BWSR Habitat Enhancement Landscape Program. 

Anoka Parks had a record-breaking start date to prescribed burns. After the burn above, ACD staff overseeded the prairie with 68 different native species.

Sherburne County Parks will coordinate restoration and enhancement activities at Bdé Heḣáka, Omashkooz Zaaga'igaans Regional Park, a new park in coordination with Tribal Historic Preservation Officers from the Upper and Lower Sioux Community and Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe to restore land through traditional cultural methods. Great River Greening will coordinate projects to enhance large habitat corridors in Sterns, Sherburne, Chisago, Wright, Anoka, Benton and Morrison counties. ACD will coordinate projects within Anoka County.

Unused lots, agriculture fields that are out of production and turf will be restored to create new habitat by planting native milkweed and wildflowers. Degraded lands that have little to no milkweed and forbs will be enhanced by controlling invasive species and conducting prescribed burns. ACD will be hosting events to plant, collect seed, and participate in a national Integrated Monarch Monitoring Program. Details on volunteer opportunities are coming soon! For more information contact Carrie Taylor, Restoration Ecologist, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Land Protection

ACD has collaborated with BWSR's RIM program to establish conservation easements to permanently protect, restore, and manage natural resources on private lands. Land protection has many benefits including protecting water quality, habitat, creating conservation corridors, and supporting climate resiliency.  

In 2023, two new conservation easements were established along the Rum River. They are adjacent to a conservation easement that was established in 2022 through the Rum RIM program and across the river from a DNR Conservation Easement. These conservation easements create a block of protected land totalling 183.5 acres along 10,960 feet of shoreline. The Gamm, Stenson-Gamm, St. Francis Land Development, and MN DNR Conservation Easement create an additional habitat core with functioning ecosystems and enhance habitat in the Rum River corridor. 

Left to Right: Stenson-Gamm and MN DNR Conservation Easement shorelines. Gamm floodplain forest.v

For more information contact Carrie Taylor, Restoration Ecologist, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Anoka Sand Plain Rare Plant Rescue

The Anoka Sand Plain (ASP) Rare Plant Rescue Program had a busy year in 2023! Thanks to the assistance of partners and volunteers, we:

  • Rescued over 900 state threatened and endangered plants from 3 new sites!
  • Transplanted over 600 rescued plants and species from seed germination trials.
  • Collected seed from 5 rare plant ASP populations for genetic preservation in the MN Landscape Arboretum's Rare Plant Seed Bank.
  • Began stem cutting and/or germination experimentations on Gaylussacia baccata (Black Huckleberry) and Rubus sp. (Bristle-berries).
  • Collaborated with the City of Blaine to adjust land management practices around a rare population of Endangered Aristida longespica (Slimspike Three-awn).
  • Implemented follow-up monitoring of previous rescue transplants to calculate survival and record success rates of locations and methods.
Left to Right: Rescuing Lance-leaved Violets before development begins. Transplanting Lance-leaved Violets into a protected natural area. Volunteers rescuing rare plants in Hugo, MN.

Looking Forward:

  • Plants rescued in 2023 are overwintering at the MN Landscape Arboretum and will be ready to move into their new homes in 2024.
  • As habitat loss continues, we will continue to seek out and survey new suitable habitats for the rescued transplants.
  • Research efforts will continue as we expand our knowledge about these rare species.
  • Conservation plans are being developed for the rare species of the ASP, outlining methods and protocols for plant rescue and conservation.
We are anticipating additional rescue events in 2024. Please stay tuned and sign up here to join our contact list! The ASP Rare Plant Rescue Program is currently funded by Lessards-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council using MN Clean Water Land and Legacy Funds. If you want to learn more about the rare plant rescue program contact Carrie Taylor, Restoration Ecologist, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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Increasing Biodiversity in Prairies

Prairie once covered 1/3 of Minnesota. Today only a little more than 1% of native prairie remains. Prairie is a key habitat for 34 Species in Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) and for many at-risk pollinators in Minnesota. It is important to maintain and enhance the little prairie that is remaining to help out these important species. Anoka County Parks maintains prairie habitat on County land with prescribed burns every 3 to 5 years. ACD helped manage weeds before the scheduled burns and overseeded a custom seed mix for each site after the burns. The native seed mixes contain species that are minimally present or not present at all the prairie units. Species that benefit at-risk pollinators were included in the mixes. The goal is to enhance the prairies by reducing non-native weeds and increasing native biodiversity. 

Pre-burn, August 2022, showing weedy hoary alyssum. ACD conducted weed control in 2023
Sally, ACD Seasonal District Technician, assisted Anoka Parks and Red Rock Fire with the Pasture Unit prescribed fire earlier this fall and is pictured here seeding on bare soil.

Bunker Hills Regional Park Pasture Unit includes a wetland depression surrounded by dry prairie. Site preparation involved controlling non-native woody encroachment and monoculture patches were sprayed or mowed. ACD overseeded following a prescribed burn in the fall. The seed mix contained 41 different forb species and 5 different grass species. A mix of wildflowers provided pollen and nectar sources for several endangered species of Bumble Bees. For more information contact Carrie Taylor, Restoration Ecologist, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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Pollinators and Partnerships

 ACD strives to build resilient pollinator corridors throughout Anoka County. This goal is accomplished by protecting and enhancing existing habitat and creating new habitat. ACD is fortunate to have local partners who also share this vision and are helping identify unused turf areas that can be converted to native plantings. ACD is currently working with the Cities of Fridley and Blaine to convert turf into prairie plantings in public green spaces. Half an acre of turf is being converted in Fridley's Commons Park and 0.3 acres of turf to prairie at Blaine's Laddie Lake Park. Staff from both cities prepared the sites and mowed the sites to prevent weeds from seeding. ACD staff seeded the sites in the spring. Members of the Cities and multiple volunteer groups planted native grasses and wildflowers to add to the seed mix.

These projects are funded by BWSR's Habitat Enhancement Landscape Pilot (HELP) grant. Other ACD HELP turf to pollinator projects are at Coon Lake County Park, Bunker Hills Regional Park and Ramsey River's Bend Park. The BWSR HELP grant also provides funds to enhance native prairies at the Cedar Creek Conservation Area, Bunker Hills Regional Park, Rum River Central Regional Park, Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve and Mississippi West Regional Park.

One way to help these projects is to donate your native prairie seeds, including milkweed seed. See ACD's previous post about milkweed seed collection. Watch this short video to see butterfly milkweed seed cleaning

For more information contact Carrie Taylor, Restoration Ecologist, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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