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Tools To Improve Riverbank Now Available 7 Days A Week

Just a few years ago, the woods along the North Loop riverbank were so choked with invasive Buckthorn and thick vines, many joggers and pedestrians couldn’t even tell there was a river on the other side.

But thanks to our volunteers who have turned out in force on Saturdays to clear out the invasive species, we now have a much healthier forest and are focused on the next phase: bringing in more species of native trees and pollinator-friendly plants.

And to help make it as convenient as possible for our volunteers, we now have a giant toolbox stocked with tools, gloves and detailed instructions, just behind the restroom near the playground in James Rice Park.

“This is to give people the opportunity to come when it’s convenient for them rather than convenient for the North Loop Neighborhood Association to organize an event,” said NLNA board member David Crary. “In five years I think we have an opportunity to really transform this park into a place that’s not only beautiful for people but a beautiful place for the birds, bees, butterflies and nature in general.”

Among the tasks that can be done right now: clipping some of the Buckthorns that have re-sprouted or digging out some of the invasive Burdock plants.

A big part of the next phase will involve diversifying the riverbank, since there are currently only two or three species of trees there. That could be a problem if a destructive tree pest such as an emerald ash borer moves in.

“We want deeper-rooted species that are gonna improve soil, hold soil in place, prevent erosion and improve water quality,” said Alex Roth, Conservation Director of Friends Of The Mississippi River. “We want species that are blooming and fruiting that provide habitat for pollinators and wildlife. And then we just want to make sure that what’s here now is gonna be here in the future. And we do that through diversifying the canopy.”

Volunteers wanting to use the toolbox can get the code to open it by writing to

By Mike Binkley, North Loop volunteer 

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