Spring Makeover for Walker District Office Landscaping: Mary Nordeen
A Spring Makeover for Walker District Office Landscaping
Walker, Minn. March 16, 2016 – People driving by the U.S. Forest Service Ranger Station in Walker, MN this spring may be surprised by what they see. Forest fire crews will be working a prescribed burn right on the front lawn of the new office. This is a part of the on-going effort to bring native wildflowers and grasses to the office landscaping.
Fire management officers are planning a 2-acre prescribed fire at the Walker Ranger Station as soon as conditions allow this spring. The objective of the Walker prescribed fire is to remove dead grasses and promote new plant growth. This will help to bring out more vigorous grass growth and push back non-native plant species. The Walker landscaping is considered “no mow” as part of the Forest commitment to watershed protection and conservation of native plant species. Prescribed fire is one way to manage the site for native wildflower and grass restoration.
The U.S. Forest Service has contracted with Boreal Natives, a native landscaping company out of Cloquet, MN. They did initial plantings of trees and seeded the soil with native wildflowers and grasses. Within the four year contract, Boreal Natives will continue the required maintenance to help the native plants gain an advantage over non-native species also found currently on the site.
In January, District Ranger Sherry Fountain and other district staff met with Boreal Natives and members of the Walker community to discuss the next steps in the Walker landscape process. Fountain noted “We are two years in a 5-year effort to get this landscape to the desired goal and appreciate the communications we have had with the community about the landscaping project.”
Information will be sent out on the tentative dates for the prescribed burn—wind conditions will be key, to ensure that smoke does not impact traffic along Highway 200 or in town. Fire management officers will also communicate plans with the Walker Fire Department.
Ranger Sherry Fountain also wants to invite people to weekly summer “wildflower walks” at the office. These short hikes led by Mary Nordeen or one of our summer naturalists will be a chance to identify the native wildflowers and grasses on site and track non-native species as well. Hike schedules will be announced in April.
For more information on the Walker District Office landscape prescribed burn, call (Casey Goldsmith or District) at 218-547-1044. To learn more about the Forest Service fire program and prescribed fire, link to http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/management/rx.html