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Pioneer Park is a unique type of wetland system located in the city of Blaine. It contains a variety of very uncommon wetland plant species that are rarely found elsewhere in the state. Due to a lack of targeted management, the presence of non-native (introduced) and invasive (weedy) plant species, along with historic attempts to ditch and drain the wetland, the wetland is degrading in quality and unique species and habitats are unsustainable without restoration and management.
By completing targeted restoration and management work, historic ditches can be filled and properly revegetated, and invasive or weedy species can be controlled. Targeted management work will protect and improve the unique wetland habitats found within Pioneer Park and promote biodiversity.
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A wetland bank is a wetland feature that has been restored, created, enhanced, or preserved for the purpose of compensating for permitted unavoidable impacts to wetlands at a different location from the wetland bank. Wetland impacts in and around Blaine are typically the result of development projects (i.e. residential developments, commercial developments, roadway projects, etc.).
Simply put, wetland restoration is the return of a wetland to its original condition, before it was impacted by historic ditching, encroachment of invasive or weedy species, or the suppression of natural processes that once naturally maintained wetland habitats and diversity.
To achieve this objective within Pioneer Park, a variety of wetland restoration methods will be used. The changes you can expect to see are:
All of these methods will help bring back the natural functions and diversity of the Pioneer Park wetland system.
The City is considering a wetland restoration project in and around the existing wetland in the southwestern portion of Pioneer Park. The trees within the wetland areas are mostly green ash and are dead or dying. The remainder of the trees within the wetland areas are mostly fast growing trees such as box elder, aspen, elm, paper birch. Many of these trees are diseased, dying, or at the end of their life cycle.
Trees that would be targeted for removal are ash trees due to the impact of the Emerald Ash Borer, and other fast growing softwoods like aspen, box elder, and elm. Over 80 percent of the trees within the project area are ash and almost all of them are already affected by the Emerald Ash Borer beetle. These ash trees are already dead or will die in the next year or so. The buckthorn and softwoods are choking out the desired native trees such as slow growing oaks and basswood. By removing the dead and invasive species, the oak seedlings will have an opportunity to get established and grow.
Management and removal of unhealthy trees along the wetland edges is implemented to restore the site to a healthy ecosystem. This is a nuanced ecological approach that will remove what does not belong, and replant what does belong.
The project is only looking at the southwest portion of the park around the existing wetland. The total proposed project area is 43.6 acres. This includes 33.4 acres of existing wetland and 10.2 acres of upland.
The City is not looking to remove any trees outside the project boundary. This is concentrated around the existing wetland area in the southwestern portion of the park. Almost all of the wooded parts of the park are outside this project boundary and would not be impacted.
In other areas of the park the City only removes trees that pose a danger of falling on the trails. The City Council may request removal of dead trees or buckthorn in the remainder of the park at a future date.
No, only dead/diseased and non-native trees will be removed.
Removal of the invasive trees like buckthorn, and fast growing softwoods will promote growth of such trees as the oak seedlings that have been shaded and crowded out. Upland restoration of those areas to help the oaks expand and re-establish will be done within the project area.
No new additional wetlands are created with this project. This proposed wetland restoration project within the City's parkland is not about creating additional acreage of wetland. It is about restoring the hydrology and vegetation quality of the existing wetlands within the park and getting credit for it. The amount of wetland acres prior to restoration will be the same as the wetland acres post-restoration.
However, the hydroperiod of the existing wetland will be restored with the installation of the weir/impoundment. This simply means the wetland will stay saturated longer throughout the year; the flood elevations will not be increased and therefore, the resulting acreage of wetland will not be increased.
Yes. The proposed project area comes close to the paved trail on the east side but does not cross it. Healthy native trees within a buffer of approximately 20-50 feet of the paved trail will be preserved. The trail that is most impacted is the 0.3 miles of soft trail to the west of the paved trail. The project proposes to restore this trail or relocate as needed to expand the trail system.
Every tree within the proposed project area was tagged to record the species and health. Some trees around and outside the project boundary were also tagged and recorded.
Tags do not indicate a plan to remove the tree.
No. Park land cannot be sold to private development without a referendum vote of Blaine residents.
The proposed project will improve the habitat for aquatic life, for pollinators, and for other wildlife by restoring the native habitat.
For example, deer do not eat buckthorn and it chokes out their preferred plants.
The City still has to complete the work of the Wetland Mitigation Proposal including public information meetings, appropriate easement to protect the property in perpetuity, and final review and approval by local, state, and federal agencies. This approval process can take up to two years.
The City is planning to start an education and outreach initiative in fall 2021. The City Council will need to approve moving forward and contracting for the restoration activities prior to any tree work beginning.
The funds received from the sale of wetland credits has been reserved for open space and trail improvements by City Council policy.
The boundaries of the proposed project are based on the topography and where the water levels of the wetland are located. The public drainage ditch is a low point for the area and so the boundary needs to be further east to where the ground is higher and at an equal elevation to the rest of the wetland edge.