Dredging Loring Pond/Destroying Habitat

I’m angry about the timing of the dredging of the Loring Pond.*

By the time work got underway last week, hundreds of male red-winged blackbirds had already returned to the pond for mating season. Obviously the project won’t be halted, but I have to wonder weather wildlife experts were consulted during the exploratory phase. The male red-wings are staking out territory in anticipation of the return of the females. It’s heartbreaking to watch these beautiful birds trying to secure their roosts with a John Deere excavator bearing down on them like some science fiction beast.

Why did the MPRB not wait until the end of the season — say, October — to tear up their habitat?

*”The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board (MPRB) at its Feb. 21 meeting approved a proposal to dredge the northwest bay of Loring Pond to eliminate the invasion of cattail that has choked much of the original shoreline that was restored in 1999.
The restoration stabilized the shoreline, improved wildlife habitat and reduced geese problems in the eight-acre pond. “It was successful until the cattails moved in,” explains Sara Aplikowski, MPRB water resources coordinator. “Cattails have taken over and replaced a beautiful native, diverse shoreline planting.”

MPRB and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) agree on dredging the 1.3 acres of the northwest bay as the solution to alleviate the cattail invasion.

Dredging the northwest bay and under the bridge will also restore the water levels to enable the return of non-motorized recreational boating, and the island will once more be a distinguishable feature. In addition, the deeper water level will make the pond less attractive to cattails.

Funding for the $73,850 maintenance project is from MPRB’s 2007 water resources budget. Work is expected to begin in March and will take two to three weeks, weather permitting.”–from the MPRB website

1 thought on “Dredging Loring Pond/Destroying Habitat

  1. Kay Hansen Post author

    I was afraid we had a board that was OK with trading in park wildlife and habitat for human recreation area. I may have jumped to conclusions. I received this response from Minneapolis Park Board Environmental Operations person, Sara Aplikowski. You decide:

    “Dear Ms. Hansen,

    The dredging project at Loring Pond needed to occur while the ground was still frozen otherwise major compaction and damage to the soil would have occurred. This would have been much worse for the habitat in the long run. The dredging project should be finished within a week to a week and a half. I expect the heavy equipment to be done by April 6th.

    This project is the first major step towards restoring the shoreline habitat for many species of birds, insects, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. The restoration is not targeted to benefit one particular species.

    Red-winged blackbirds may be the most abundant bird in North America (according to the USDA Wildlife Services). They raise 2 to 3 clutches a year. This is too early for them to be nesting and daily observation has shown that many have continued to stay at the project site regardless of the work that is being done. I agree with you that they are staking out their territory. Nearby habitat exists at the main pond in Loring Park and at Spring Lake. It is unfortunate that we have disturbed the red-wings with this project and I regret that. However, they should have plenty of opportunity (time and space) to have a successful breeding season.

    I appreciate your concern and thank you for bringing it to our attention. Please feel free to call me to discuss this further.

    Sincerely,

    Sara Aplikowski”

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