Volunteers from the Friends of Nerstrand Big Woods are rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty as they partner with park staff on two exciting projects this summer.
The first project is a habitat restoration project on half an acre near the main picnic area, which has been overtaken by invasive reed canary grasses. Earlier this week the volunteers began the labor-intensive work of removing the invasive grasses and preparing the site for native plants by raking and grubbing.
Next, native prairie species will be planted. As the plants establish and grow, the area will not only be more aesthetically pleasing for visitors to enjoy a picnic, it also provides beneficial pollinator habitat. This may even give park visitors an up-close view of pollinators at work fluttering and buzzing among the plants. This project is funded by a grant from Parks & Trails Council, which was made possible by the Henry S. Crosby Foundation. Read more about that grant here.
For the second project, the volunteers are building a nature-based playground. This will be a play space that incorporates natural elements such as logs, rocks, and dirt. Nature-based playscapes are becoming increasingly common as parks and schools re-think and re-design outdoor play spaces for kids. Research shows a multitude of positive benefits to kids who play in natural play areas. Read more about the research and examples of nature-based playgrounds here.
All photos provided by Emily Nesvold and the Friends of Nerstrand Big Woods State Park.