This program is designed to assist communities and public landowners to restore and protect natural areas and open spacesin their communities. Many residents and neighborhood organizations see natural resources projects as opportunities to help strengthen their communities through volunteer stewardship. However, they typically lack the scientific and technical experience to work most effectively with landowner agencies. Likewise, staff of park districts, cities and other units of government often desire and rely on community participation to help accomplish natural resource management goals. However, land managers seldom have time or expertise to work as closely as necessary with community organizations and groups of citizens.

Our vision is to assist communities and land managers in building capacity for long-term success in both community organizing and natural resources management, through projects that:

Ecological Strategies staff offers the unique combination of skills needed to help achieve this vision:



Restoring the Mississippi River Gorge

Since 2003, Ecological Strategies has been guiding volunteers to restore several native plant communities along the Mississippi River Gorge in Minneapolis’ Longfellow community. The focus has been to Oak Savanna, Maple-Basswood, and Oak Forest areas in this Minneapolis parkland in the heart of the city. In 2002, while at Great River Greening, Carolyn was co-author of the Ecological Inventory and Restoration Management Plan for the Gorge.

In 2003, Carolyn developed a more detailed Restoration Implementation Plan specifically for the Oak Savanna Restoration area to guide seasonal tasks for volunteers, Park Board crews, and contractors. Since 2003, she has led hundreds of volunteers in dozens of events including: collecting and spreading seed of native prairie wildflowers and grasses; removing exotic species such as buckthorn, garlic mustard, and white sweet clover; and maintaining earlier savanna restoration plantings. Work in forested areas has included buckthorn removal, as well as native woodland seed collection and spreading, and planting of native woodland shrubs.

Carolyn’s work has been closely coordinated with Friends of the Mississippi River’s Gorge Stewards Program, Longfellow Community Council’s River Gorge Committee, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB), and the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO).  Great River Greening and the NationalPark Service have both contributed to past restoration projects in the project area, as well.    

Carolyn uses these hands-on restoration events in the Mississippi River Gorge to accomplish timely tasks while building volunteers’ plant identification skills and other aspects of their ecological literacy. Over the years of this work, a small core group of volunteers has emerged, sharing a strong sense of place and community. In 2008, Ecological Strategies assisted Friends of the Mississippi River in creating the Gorge Leaders program, which is engaging a smaller and more dedicated group of volunteers in ongoing restoration events for their own group, and in assisting with larger events for the general public.

Longfellow-Seward Native Plants Grants & Buckthorn Removal Program

Longfellow-Seward native plant grants and buckthorn removalFrom 2003 to 2007, Ecological Strategies worked with Longfellow Community Council and Seward Neighborhood Group to develop and conduct four programs to improve the ecological value of the landscapes of these Minneapolis neighborhoods. The programs have included:

The goals of all of these projects are to protect water quality, while also increasing biological diversity in the urban landscape. Carolyn Carr designed the residential programs in close collaboration with Hillary Oppmann of the Longfellow Community Council staff. Carolyn conducted the various educational workshops for the residents, and in 2007 conducted an evaluation of the rain garden program for programs’ funder, the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization. Additional support was provided by Longfellow’s Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) funds. 

Maiden Rock Village Park Plan

The Village of Maiden Rock is located on the Wisconsin shore of Lake Pepin. The Village’s lakeshore park is used by local residents and visitors for activities such as picnicking, community events, camping and boat launching. The Village of Maiden Rock recognized the need for park planning and a team of volunteers was assembled. Cynthia Lane, of Ecological Strategies, served as the chair of the planning team. The planning process included two community meetings to gather input on park use and draft plan alternatives. The final plan is expected to be formally accepted by the village board in early May, 2004.