The Sprouting Cottonwoods Project
by Maria DeLaundreau
This year I am serving the Mississippi River Fund through MN GreenCorps, an AmeriCorps program coordinated by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The goal of GreenCorps is to “preserve and protect Minnesota’s environment while training a new generation of environmental professionals.” GreenCorps places AmeriCorps members at host sites around the state where they will carry out their term of service.
Cottonwood trees also improve aquatic habitat. In time, cottonwood trees will provide shelter for fish. When cottonwoods grow near a river channel, the river erodes the banks around them until the tree is left on unstable footing. When it falls into the river, the branches, which previously would have been home to terrestrial birds and insects, will shelter aquatic invertebrates and fish. The branches in the river also help to improve water clarity by acting as a filter to remove soil and dirt sediment in the water.