North Star Community Rowing Site Stabilization

Steep slopes presented a unique challenge in stabilizing sandy soils at this one-of-a-kind public river access and launch in North Minneapolis.


Project Details

City: Minneapolis

Type: Community Grant

Status: Completed

Timeline: 2021-2022

MWMO Funding: $5,000 Community

Partners: City of Minneapolis; Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board; Civil Site Group; Bluebird Gardening; University of Wisconsin-Madison; NSCR Volunteers

Contractors: Earth Wizards; Windscapes; Twin City Hydro Seeding

Staff Contact:

Adam Flett
Communications and Outreach Specialist
Email Adam Flett
View Bio

An MWMO Community Grant helped North Star Community Rowing (NSCR) stabilize steeply sloped riverbank at a new Mississippi River boat launch in North Minneapolis. Contractors installed a blend of fescue species (narrow-leaved grasses) that will beautify and stabilize the site in preparation for a more long-term planting plan. Located on the southern edge of the future Upper Harbor Terminal redevelopment site downstream of a heron rookery, the site helps provide inclusive public access to the Mississippi River.

NCSR created a new access point for recreation in the McKinley Neighborhood of North Minneapolis. Located on the south end of the Upper Harbor Terminal site, this boat launch was constructed in 2020 with approval from both the City of Minneapolis (current landowner) and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (future landowner). Creating new public access points is a rare opportunity and a challenging task, and NSCR’s accomplishments in this project demonstrate their commitment and leadership in empowering individuals and building community through access to the sport of rowing and recreation on the Mississippi River.

In 2021, MWMO granted $5,000 to NSCR to help protect the steep slopes at the access site. Given the site conditions, this required consulting and contracting support to ensure the slopes could hold enough compost and hydromulch for seeds to germinate. Creating a root system that both holds the soil and builds a structure for future plantings was a key goal, and with the help of Earth Wizards, Windscapes and Twin City Hydro Seeding, a mix of fescues was installed. These attractive fescues will establish a thick layer of vegetation that will accomplish short-term soil stabilization goals while creating a platform for a larger future planting plan for the entire site. The work funded by this grant had an immediate impact on the shoreline environment, beautifying a denuded, formerly industrial site and functioning as erosion control.

In the next phases, NSCR will look to install a whole site planting plan focused on a variety of grass, plant, and shrub species. A number of conceptual designs for the site were developed by students in the University of Wisconsin (UW) Landscape Architecture program and vetted by UW professors specializing in native plants, landscape design, and habitat restoration. These conceptual designs will help guide the next steps towards an on-site planting plan, with the goals of controlling erosion, reintroducing native vegetation, and creating a pleasing space for community members to interact with the river.

NSCR promotes diversity and inclusion in the sport of rowing by expanding access to youth from under-resourced communities (primarily North Minneapolis), people with physical disabilities, veterans, and community members who do not have the resources to join, or means to physically access private rowing clubs. NSCR programs in North Minneapolis bring people from the local McKinley and Webber Camden Communities – whose neighborhoods were cut off from the river by the construction of the I-94 highway, and who have rarely been to the river shoreline – to enjoy the river, meet their neighbors, and experience the beauty of nature. As these community members develop a new understanding of and appreciation for the river environment, they become stakeholders in its stewardship.

For more photos of the project, please visit our Flickr album.

North Star Community Rowing River Access