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.

Native Plant Communities

Prior to European settlement, the landscape of Minneapolis was a patchwork of wetlands, lakes, streams, forests, prairie and oak savanna. Indigenous people inhabited the area and managed the landscape for centuries. One of their management techniques was using fire to move game and encourage the growth of desirable plants.

Today, invasive species and urbanization have considerably altered Minneapolis’ park natural areas. Small remnants of the plant communities that were once found in Minneapolis still remain.

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 Park –  Morley’s Prairie
South end of the park, chain link fenced area on top of bluff, adjacent to dog park

Native Plant Communities - Oak Tree

Planted Natural Areas

Recognizing the many benefits of native vegetation, we strive to encourage the use of native plants in the landscape.

Native plants provide habitat for wildlife and pollinators, add year-round interest to the landscape, protect shorelines from erosion, and can provide for storm water retention and treatment.

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

Prairie

Management

Environmental Stewardship staff work to maintain the natural areas that we've identified as priority native plant communities, 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.

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