RIVERFRONT vitality project

Natural resources:

Natural habitat

Percent of riverfront that is parkland with natural habitat

The Mississippi River has long been an essential corridor for the movement of wildlife through our region, and indeed, migrations across our hemisphere. While some wildlife can exist in mowed fields of turf grass, the more natural, unmowed meadows and woodlands along the river generally are far richer habitat for a more diverse range of wildlife (footnote 1).

For this measure, we are making a very basic and coarse distinction between parkland that can function substantially as habitat, and parkland that functions largely as an activity space for humans (frequently to the detriment of wildlife). Even within the parkland that we are classifying as potential habitat, there is a wide range of quality. Some of this habitat will be fragmented and dominated by invasive species. Other areas are being actively restored to resemble pre-settlement conditions and managed to high standards. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources maintains much richer data on land cover; however, this data is only very occasionally updated, and thus would not easily allow us to track year-to-year change.

The data underscores that parkland with natural habitat is three times more prevalent in the Lower Gorge than the Upper River (see below). This has implications for the ability of wildlife to move and thrive in the corridor, of course. It also has implications for humans: ready access to trees and natural beauty has positive impacts on our own health and well-being.


Source: Calculations based on the map data shown and described below.
(1) see (for example) Michigan Department of Natural Resources.  (2000).  Managing Michigan’s Wildlife: A Landowner’s Guide.  Lansing, MI: Mark Sargent and Kelly Siciliano Carter.  Retrieved from http://www.michigandnr.com/publications/pdfs/huntingwildlifehabitat/landowners_guide/Resource_Dir/Acrobat/Grass_Ground_Cover.PDF

Parkland with natural habitat

is 3 times

more prevalent in the Lower Gorge than in the Upper River

Map of ground cover in parks

tree canopy/forest (natural habitat) turf grass, with or without trees
grassland/meadow (natural habitat) park roads and parking
Map data updated September 2015. Data source and methodology: The Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership undertook a top-level analysis of overarching habitat types within parkland owned by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board along the Minneapolis Riverfront. The analysis was performed by reviewing 2014 aerial orthoimagery from Google and Bing, and making judgements about the overarching habitat classifications based on that view. Aerial review was supplemented with first-hand knowledge of the river corridor, streetview imagery, and in a limited number of cases, site visits. You may link to this data as an ArcGIS service at this link.