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Bloomington is blessed with many parks and open spaces. They City is creating a new Master Plan for the parks. The purpose of the Park System Master Plan is to establish a clear, 20-year vision for the Bloomington park, trail, recreation, and open space systems. There are nearly 9,000 acres of parkland and open space in Bloomington, of which 3,882 acres are City-owned. Nearly 36% of the City’s 38.3 square miles is parkland or open space.
The Bush Lake Chapter will be advocating for the following. If you support these items, click on the link above and send in your comments:
Parks and Open Space in General
Overall, the City needs to provide more funding for restoration and wildlife habitat. Given all of our parks and open spaces, wouldn't it be great if we had a Natural Resources Manager to oversee all of this, and paid staff committed to natural resources, similar to what Minnetonka and other cities have? The City needs to provide funding for ecological restoration and maintenance. There's also many areas of turf that are not needed/not used that could be converted to habitat.
Bush Lake Area
Bush Lake and its surrounding lands and waters are still in good shape, others need a lot of work. The area is a critically important piece of habitat given its location by Hyland and Tierney's Woods and Anderson Lake. We have documented some rare species in the area- the endangered rusty patched bumblebee, state threatened kittentails, as well as prairie mimosa (Illinois bundleflower, possibly a Hennepin County record), American lotus, and red headed woodpecker to name a few.
Bush Lake is threatened by the spread of invasive species such as Eurasian water milfoil, curly leaf pondweed, and hybrid and narrow-leaved cattail. More should be done to manage these species and to prevent the introduction of zebra mussels into the lake.
The area north of the Chapter and East Bay pond is former oak savanna habitat with several ponds scattered throughout and trails running through it. This 17 acres of City land is overrun with buckthorn. The City should seek grants and partner with the Bush Lake Chapter Izaak Walton League to restore this area for wildlife and to increase the area's conservation corridor.
The City should create better turtle nesting habitat, both on the public beach as well as on the west side of Bush Lake. Three Rivers Park District has done similar work in parks they manage.
The City and Watershed District need to improve the maintenance that is being done around the Bush Lake vegetative buffer in order to control invasive plants, expand native plants, improve aesthetics and to protect water quality.
Ikes Creek and Kelly Farm
Did you know a coldwater stream comes bubbling out of the ground, not far from the Mall of America? And thanks to the Izaak Walton League and others, it is the only stream left in Hennepin County known to support trout. Officially called "Unnamed Creek" is has been known as Ikes Creek since the 1940s when Ike volunteers reared fish in the nearby Bass Ponds to repopulate area lakes and rivers with game fish that had been lost to pollution, over-fishing, and industrialization.
Several years ago, the City, Great River Greening, and volunteers did restoration work in the area- removing buckthorn and seeding native species. Little to no follow up was done, and the area quickly reverted to buckthorn, garlic mustard, and other invasive species. Maintenance is critical the first 3-5 years after restoration to manage the invasive seedbank and let natives establish. A 5-10 year management plan that focuses on this unique resource should be created and enacted. Collaborate/partner with the USFWS.
Nearby, the last farm in Bloomington still operates. This is also the largest remaining open space within the City. It is currently for sale. Should the property sell, the City should consider preserving at least a portion of the area as a City park- starting with the area closest to the bluff and National Wildlife Refuge. Preserving land in this highly developed area will be important for both people and wildlife in the future.
Normandale Lake area
Lots of money and attention has been focused on Normandale Lake the last few years- with a City and Watershed project that brought down the lake in an attempt to improve the water quality and aquatic vegetation in this once a wetland-now shallow lake. Little to no attention is paid to the land surrounding the lake which is overrun by invasive species or is turf grass. Hundreds of people walk around the lake daily. It could be a great example of pollinator and wildlife habitat in an urban area. Buckthorn was removed from areas north of the lake a few years ago, but again- little to no maintenance was done and it is reverting to buckthorn. The City and Watershed District should consider partnering on restoring the land around Normandale lake, for both people and wildlife.