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Environmental Stewardship

Mississippi Park Connection partners with the National Park Service to restore river habitat and protect our natural spaces within the park corridor and beyond. From the restoration of Coldwater Spring to the Plant for the Future initiative to leadership efforts with the Stop Carp Coalition, environmental stewardship is a top priority in our organization.


The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area’s urban forest faces increasing pressure from invasive pests, a changing climate, and challenges with regeneration. As the park faces these challenges, Mississippi Park Connection is committed to building resilience in the urban forest through new and ongoing environmental stewardship initiatives.

Gravel bed nursery enable the trees’ root system to grow, thus increasing survival rates of the trees. As the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area faces the impending loss of its ash trees, projects like the gravel bed nursery are helping us prepare for a greener tomorrow.

Coldwater Spring is situated between Minnehaha Falls Regional Park and Fort Snelling State Park. Previously home to the Bureau of Mines Twin Cities Research Center, the National Park Service acquired responsibility for the property in 2010 and has since worked with Mississippi Park Connection to restore the area to an oak savanna prairie landscape.

In 2009, Minnesota was added to the growing list of states that have become reluctant homes to the invasive pest, Emerald ash borer. These larvae feed on the inner bark of white, black, and green ash trees, disrupting and eventually killing the tree. This study project assessed the state of the threatened ash tree population within Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, identified successful management practices, and helped determine the best adaptation strategies.

Cottonwoods are ecologically valuable for many reasons, but a recent study has shown they are not regenerating in the Mississippi River floodplain. To address this issue, Mississippi Park Connection, together with the National Park Service, spent two years studying to find a solution to this issue.

In 2011, Mississippi Park Connection funded e-DNA studies of the Mississippi River that showed that invasive carp were a threat to our river’s ecosystem. Since then, our organization has taken a lead on a public awareness campaign about the carp, specifically targeting boaters, anglers, and sportsmen. We joined the Stop Carp Coalition to work with other partners on the river to pass legislation in 2014 that closed the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock in June of 2015.