Greenway corridors are the backbone of the Minneapolis Park System. These corridors, originally planned by Horace Cleveland and developed under the direction of Superintendent Theodore Wirth, connect the natural features of the Minneapolis Regional Park System to the City’s neighborhoods. These natural areas enhance residents’ awareness and enjoyment of the natural environment.

The Environment Management Natural Resources work group manages a diverse mix of natural areas including forests, prairies, shorelines, wetlands and landscaped areas that have been planted with native plants.

MPRB staff, working with Applied Ecological Services (AES) and SRF Consulting Group, started work on the inventory, categorization and assessment of natural areas in the park system. Mapping of natural areas was based on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Minnesota Landcover Classification System (MLCCS). MLCCS data was used to categorize and implement a preliminary ranking system for the natural areas. The consultants documented this work and their methodologies in a report to the MPRB [PDF] in 2017. Next steps in this work will begin in 2018 with more detailed field assessment of park natural areas and development of management recommendations.

Native Plant Communities

South Theodore Wirth ParkOak Forest
Wirth Pkwy between Glenwood Ave. and 394 north frontage road (Excelsior Blvd.) Location of the Wirth Vegetation Management Project.

South Theodore Wirth Park- Quaking Tamarack Bog
Between Glenwood Ave. and 394, west of the parking lot on Wirth Parkway

William Berry Park Woodland
South of William Berry Pkwy between Richfield Rd. and 40th St. W.

Thomas Sadler Roberts Bird SanctuaryWetland and Maple Forest
Roseway Road, one block east of E. Lake Harriet Pkwy

West River Parkway & 36th St. – Prairie, Savanna and Oak Forest

Minnehaha Park Lower Glen –Oak Forest, Black Ash and Skunk Cabbage Seep
Below Minnehaha Falls- Minnehaha Creek to the Mississippi River

Minnehaha ParkMorley’s Prairie
South end of the park, chain link fenced area on top of bluff, adjacent to dog park

Native Plant Communities - Oak Tree

Natural Area Plantings

Shingle Creek Prairie
Oliver Avenue North and 52nd St.

Nokomis Savanna Hillside
East Nokomis Parkway near 50th St.

Powderhorn Lake Shoreline

Lake Nokomis Storm Water Ponds


Environmental Stewardship staff work to maintain the natural areas that we’ve identified as priority native plant communities (see the Native Plant Communities tab), and natural areas that were planted as part of a landscape design or as a storm water best management practice.

Management Practices

Management of natural areas primarily focuses on control of invasive species to maintain and assist native plant regeneration. This work is accomplished by staff, seasonal employees, and contractors, assisted by volunteers.

Invasive Species Control

Prescribed Burns

Tree Management


We maintain natural areas on an infrequent basis. Natural areas are located primarily within the regional parks, and include some lands within neighborhood parks.

Goals for reduced mow areas include:

  • Maintaining park user safety and sight line visibility
  • Reducing the spread of invasive and problem plant species
  • Reducing mowing frequency in erosion prone areas