Rapids Lake Unit Habitat Restoration Project

Native prairie flowers, courtesy Hoksey Native Seeds

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Minnesota DNR, and Minnesota Valley Lands are partnering to restore wildlife habitat on Rapids Lake Unit lands south of Carver, Minnesota.  (Photo of prairie flowers courtesy of hokseynativeseeds.org)

Rapids Lake Unit Habitat Restoration Project

The Minnesota Valley Trust, Inc., in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), is restoring wildlife habitat on 150 acres south of Carver, Minnesota. The lands are owned by Minnesota Valley Lands, Minnesota DNR and USFWS; the entire area is part of the Rapids Lake Unit of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

Why Are We Doing Restoration Work?

The property was originally native prairie and oak savanna, but most of the native habitat has been destroyed or is overrun by shrubs, trees, and non-native weeds. Our goal is to restore the area to native habitat to the greatest extent possible so people and wildlife can benefit from these natural systems.

What work will be completed?

Starting in fall 2020 and ending in fall 2021, we are using machinery and herbicides to remove undesirable shrubs, weeds, and trees. This will open up the area so prairie plants and bur oak trees can thrive. From fall 2020 through summer 2023, we’ll plant native grass and wildflower seeds and do periodic mowing to help them establish. The work will be intensive and will significantly change the property’s appearance, but all for the better. Future ongoing maintenance will involve spot mowing and spraying for invasive weeds as well as periodic prescribed burns.

Where will restoration happen?

The project area includes land recently acquired by the Minnesota Valley Trust and sections of property owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Minnesota DNR. They are near the North Hunter Lot of the Rapids Lake Unit.  Trail map of the Rapids Lake Unit and other nearby Refuge Units can be found by clicking here (pdf file).

A map of the planned restoration project area is shown at the bottom of this page.

How is the work funded?

Funding for this project comes from a Metro Conservation Partners Legacy Grant awarded to the Minnesota Valley Trust, Inc. by the Minnesota DNR. The grant is funded by the voter-approved Legacy Fund. Additional funding comes from the Minnesota Valley Trust, Inc. and the USFWS Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. The USFWS also provides in-kind support through conservation expertise, technical assistance, and prescribed burning.

How Can You Help?

Public safety is our primary concern during this project, so we ask that people avoid entering the project area until after the work is completed. We will do everything we can so people can return to exploring the lands as soon as possible. Please do not trespass on private land. We will post notification signs whenever we apply herbicides.

If you have questions about the project, please contact Matt McClanahan, Habitat Biologist, at 612-750-1942 or by email at mmcclanahan@mnvalleytrust.org.

Read more about the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge's 2018 Habitat Management Plan by clicking here (pdf file).

 Rapids Lake Unit Restoration Project map 2020