Mary Jenc and David Knight, citizen stream monitors on Rice Creek in Ramsey County, are combating invasive species.
As Rice Creek residents, we have a strong responsibility to look after the health of the creek. In 2017, we completed our 5th season as Citizen Stream Monitoring volunteers. It was a big season for us in combating invasive species, buckthorn in particular, but also taking aim at lingering Garlic Mustard and Reed Canary Grass, and replacing these invasives with native vegetation along the stretch of the creek that extends through our backyard.
We are pursuing this project for a variety of reasons, but mainly to provide birds with native berries to eat and spread, instead of the buckthorn berries which act as a laxative to the birds and result in further propagation of the buckthorn species. Benefits of establishing native shoreline plants, shrubs, and trees along the streambank include slowing down erosion, providing shade to aquatic life, and supporting water quality through deep root systems.
Some of the tree and shrub species we planted along the shoreline are Nannyberry, Red Osier Dogwood, Highbush Cranberry, Buttonbush, White Cedar, and Tamarack. We also put in numerous herbaceous species, including Blue Flag Iris, Tall Coneflower, St. Johns-wort, Rose Mallow, and Leeks in hopes to attract more pollinators. Minnesota Wildflowers and Prairie Moon have been our “go to” for guidance, advice, seeds, and plants; they are a wealth of information for anyone interested in incorporating natives in any type of yard design.
In anticipation of the inevitable advance of the Emerald Green Ash Borer, we have selectively removed Green Ash from along the creek. This will provide our newly planted natives with more sunlight while they establish themselves along our section of the creek, resulting in a more mature and diverse selection of riparian vegetation.
We also replaced all of the grass in our front yard with native wildflowers and have built "rain cubes" that can capture runoff from 80% of our roof’s surface and retain over 500 gallons of rainwater during a ¾-inch rainfall. It’s important to remember that most city residents essentially live on waterfront property, as runoff from their curbed street leads directly into nearby lakes and streams.
Though this is a very tiny feat and it is just beginning, we are proud of our transformation and hope to inspire other creek dwellers and frankly, any persons with a curbed street gutter, to take action on removing invasive species, planting native species, and managing and reusing rainwater.