This abandoned sod farm now harbors a diverse ecosystem along a popular trail.
The North St. Paul Urban Ecology Center is a 24-acre wetland restoration project in North St. Paul along the Gateway Trail. In 1995, the District’s Natural Resources Board, with the help of the U of M Department of Landscape Architecture, authored the restoration plan. Construction and initial planting took place in 1997 and 1998. This site includes an open space and walking trail, and it has also served as an educational resource for area schools.
While the pond buffer and observation mound now have established native plant communities, invasive plant management on the site continues to be a challenge. Reed canary grass and Canada thistle populations have so far proven difficult to contain and reduce. Tatarian honeysuckle and buckthorn have been largely removed from the public lands, but continue to re-invade from adjacent private property.
Despite these challenges, the Urban Ecology Center is a valuable wildlife habitat area and natural park amenity. A walking trail and boardwalk provide access to the peaceful cattail wetland on the north portion of the park, and purple prairie clover and lead plant are prominent on the observation mound.