Nicollet Island Restoration

A community-led coalition will restore native prairie and forest and remove invasive species on Nicollet Island.


Project Details

City: Minneapolis

Type: Planning Grant, Action Grant

Status: Active

Timeline: 2017–2019

MWMO Funding: $58,730

Partners: Friends of the Mississippi River; Friends of the Riverfront; Minneapolis Park and Recreation BoardNicollet Island — East Bank Neighborhood Association

Staff Contact:
Marcy Bean, PLA
Capital Projects and Stewardship Specialist
Email Marcy Bean, PLA
View Bio

Friends of the Mississippi River (FMR) will lead a group of community partners in restoring natural areas on Nicollet Island. The MWMO is providing funding to remove invasive species and restore native prairie and forest on more than 7 acres of open space and natural areas on the island. This will result in improved habitat and reduced erosion on the island.

Interested in volunteering to help with the restoration? Click here.

Located north of downtown Minneapolis, Nicollet Island contains several undeveloped natural areas that serve as a valuable link to other parkland and habitat along the Mississippi Riverfront. Invasive plant species like buckthorn and honeysuckle have spread across these areas, hastening erosion problems along the shoreline and degrading the island’s ecology. Restoring these lands will provide a variety of benefits, including healthier and more diverse habitat, improved recreation opportunities, and better stormwater retention and infiltration.

An FMR ecologist will lead contractors in removing the invasive species and replacing them with native grasses, wildflowers, trees, and shrubs. The native species will provide better groundcover and stabilize the soil. Erosion bars and earthwork will also be used to repair areas with extensive damage from erosion. Ongoing management of the restoration areas will be accomplished through partnership with community volunteers.

FMR utilized a Planning Grant to support the development of a Natural Resource Management Plan (NRMP) for the island’s east side. The plan provided an ecological inventory and assessment, recommendations for restoring and improving native plant communities, and a strategy for implementation and maintenance. The MWMO subsequently awarded an Action Grant to help fund the restoration project.

The project area is owned by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB), and is located in the Mississippi River Critical Corridor Area. MPRB’s Master Plan for the area describes a goal to “restore and enhance natural resources, improve wildlife habitat, and water quality.”

During the planning phase, FMR and the Nicollet Island — East Bank Neighborhood Association organized neighborhood meetings to present the plan, gather community input, and encourage neighborhood involvement. FMR plans to hold additional public outreach events and engage local volunteers and students from DeLasalle High School in planting and maintaining the vegetation.