Posts Tagged ‘Nokomis’

  In the month of February, MPRB Forestry crews removed a portion of the ash trees within the park (marked with green paint) as part of the Emerald Ash Borer driven Ash Canopy Replacement Plan in addition to trees that died as a result of storm damage, flood water immersion or disease (marked with orange paint). 70+ Ash were removed and 225 other species of tree were removed. Stump grinding for the removed trees will be done when the weather cooperates throughout the spring and summer. This spring, additional trees that succumbed to disease as a result of flood induced stress were marked for removal. Smaller trees were removed Friday, larger trees that require bucket trucks will be removed later this summer.

Replacement trees were planted this year, primarily during the month of May. Ralph Sievert, director of the MPRB’s Forestry department described the replanting as follows:

“Our plan is to replant each tree that was removed unless there are site / environmental constraints that prevent us from doing so.  The new trees will be composed of nearly 30 different genera, many of which do well in wet sites.  Some of those that tolerate wet conditions include Larch, Elms, Planetrees, River Birch, Baldcypress, Alder, Bicolor Oak, Aspen / Poplars & Honeylocusts.”

Some of you may have noticed that trees in this list are the same trees that died during last year’s lengthy flooding event. Trees that tolerate wet conditions will still succumb to flooding if these trees do not experience extreme moisture during their development and establishment; which means that even these new trees may die in future extremely wet years if we do not consistently experience wet springs. The park board’s diversification of trees helps to ensure that a stressor or disease that may kill some types of trees doesn’t completely wipe out the urban forest.

You can learn more about our urban forest on the park board’s new website. You can help the forest’s new additions be successful by helping water boulevard trees and get a free beverage and warm fuzzy in exchange – there is a new effort championed by resident Minneapolis foresters called Brewing a Better Forest that is trying to get every new tree planted adopted for watering. This year the MPRB will be planting 8,500 new trees with a significant portion of those being boulevard trees. Trees younger than five years old need one inch of rainfall each week to stay healthy. If there is not enough rain you should water your trees, including any you have adopted ; ). A proper watering involves slowly pouring at least four five-gallon buckets of water over the tree roots, or putting a hose under the tree and letting it run gently for one hour.

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Theodore Wirth describes the park in his history of the park system as follows: “Although Lake Nokomis (408 acres in area) was purchased in 1907 (for the small sum of $65,000), the improvement work did not begin until the spring of 1914. The area acquired consisted of about 300 acres of shallow water known as Lake Amelia, about 70 acres of mostly low swampy farmland at the northwest corner, and about 38 acres of higher dry land at its northeast corner [where the Recreation Center sits now], as well as a small strip along the south boundary. The improvement plan contemplated reducing the water area from 300 to 200 acres (the minimum depth of the lake to be not less than eight feet and the low lands to be filled to well above the lake level), and increasing the total land area from 108 to 208 acres. Estimated dredging operations amounted to between 2,000,000 and 2,500,000 cubic yards.”

In May of 1914, the Northern Dredge and Dock Company of Duluth began work to remove 2,460,978 cubic yards of sand and soil from what was then a shallow 300 acre water body known locally as Lake Amelia. A dyke was built in the northwest corner of the park and dredging continued until December of 1918. The park board’s improvement plan called for the minimum depth of this new 200 acre lake to be 8 feet and for the dredge material to be used to fill in the surrounding swampy lowlands to well above water level.


As pockets of sand were found during the project they were used to create the beach currently known as the Main Beach and to provide a base for the roads being built to the site and under the bath house, also resulting in deeper pockets of water.

The fill eventually increased the usable park land by 100 acres, nearly doubling available land for development. The land that was filled in, is in some places still settling and may continue to do so for decades. Wirth speculated that it may never fully settle “Dredge fills on swampland, as it is well known, take many years to settle to a final or permanent elevation—and in fact our experience with them leads me to doubt that they ever do come to a complete standstill.”

It can take a century or longer for dredged water bodies to begin functioning like a naturally occurring lakes. As part of the master planning process currently underway, Nokomis was analyzed to see if it was still stabilizing. The water quality consultant from EOR (Emmons and Olivier Resources, Inc.), has determined that Nokomis has finished its transitional period and is now functioning like a natural lake.

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In early 1942, US soldiers joined Allied forces fighting in Europe. The war in the Pacific was not going well. US forces lost Guam, Hong Kong, Wake, Singapore and the Philippines to Japanese forces. Early in the year, President Roosevelt ordered the internment of Japanese Americans living on the West Coast and the seizure of their property by creating exclusion zones, these zones also effected German and Italian Americans living on the East Coast. The war was just beginning for Americans and it dominated newsreels, news broadcasts and the papers.

Now that we’ve set the scene, I’d like to share this opinion piece from the May 27th 1942 issue of the Minneapolis Star, reprinted with permission from the Star Tribune, no author’s name is provided. Photographs were taken in 2012, by Steffanie Musich.  A copy of the article was found in the Minneapolis Collection at the Central Library in Downtown Minneapolis.



War is helping many of us to discover places of beauty we never knew existed.

Now and again we are taking to our feet and leaving the car in the garage. We find, to our surprise, that we can stroll to spots where the car could not go.

There’s that little arm of Lake Nokomis that is spanned by the Cedar bridge. It had been that–and nothing more. Then the other day we walked around the paths. They led in between the trees: why, this was a jewel-box of a dell!

The gentle lace of the foliage covered us like a giant mantilla. A rustic foot bridge, invisible from the boulevards, snuggled over a channel–perhaps an outlet–that we had never seen before. We might have been miles from a city.

We were away from it all and alone–with nothing to remind us of war save the dive-bombing of millions of starved mosquitoes!


Courtesy of the James K. Hosmer Special Collections Library, Hennepin County Library, Minneapolis Collection

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