The St. Paul District environmental stewardship section has been busy lately planting trees near Bay City, Wis.
The reforestation project began as a way to mitigate floodplain forest and wetlands that were lost due to the nearly $70 million dollars in renovations to Lock and Dam 3, near Red Wing, Minn. The project greatly improved navigation safety, but the construction forced the district to remove about 70 acres of wetlands, said Tom Novak, Lock and Dam 3 project manager.
Ray Marinan, St. Paul District natural resources specialist, said the forest mitigation project is all about providing a diverse floodplain forest which will benefit both society and the environment. He said the land where trees are now growing was used for agriculture just a few years ago. He said the young forest was planted in two phases and there are already signs of progress. “We’re interested not only in producing trees and making a forest here, but we’re looking at the benefits of that for wildlife so we also try to plant a food source,” said Marinan.
In another area of the reforestation project, Marinan cleared debris from a bird’s nest located within a red oak tree He pointed out that the project is already creating habitat for nesting birds. “That’s proof that our work is having a positive benefit already,” he said. “In just the few has had a lot of interest from the public. It didn’t take for people to realize that ‘hey there is public land that we use and access.’”
While the forest is well on its way to becoming suitable habitat for a variety of trees and animals, as well as providing outdoor recreation opportunities to the public, Marinan said many people were involved in making the project possible. From Corps of Engineers navigation specialists, planners, project managers, environmental and regulatory specialists, to partner agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, everyone has been focused on watching the forest mature into its own ecosystem.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District manages about 25,000 acres of land along the Mississippi River. For more information, please visit the St. Paul District website.