Lily Lake has been removed from the state's Impaired Waters List thanks to the work of Sustainable Stillwater MN, the Lily Lake Association, Middle St. Croix Watershed, their leaders Mike Isensee and Matt Downie, and the City of Stillwater. But the work isn't over yet. Sixteen volunteers spent their Saturday morning, September 24, volunteering to inventory rain gardens, destroy invasive plants, and plant native trees and shrubs at Lily Lake Park.
Headed up by Master Naturalist Ruth Alliband, rain garden team leader, volunteers planted fruit trees and shrubs in two acres of woods near the Lily Lake boat landing. The native species are Running Serviceberry, Pin Cherry, Wild Black Cherry, Red Elder, Wild Plum, Gray Dogwood, Red Osier Dogwood, and Chokeberry. These shrubs will provide fruit for birds and are hosts for insect larvae that will also feed birds and maintain species diversity.
This event was part of National Public Lands Day, the largest single-day volunteer event for public lands. Established in 1994 and held annually on the fourth Saturday in September, this celebration brings out thousands of volunteers to help restore and improve public lands around the country.
A year ago at the 2021 National Public Lands Day, Ruth Alliband and another Master Naturalist, Alison Hruby, surveyed this part of the park to identify its potential as a conservation area. Their report went to Sustainable Stillwater MN volunteers and was read by Fitzie Heimdahl, who is the team leader for our Natural Resources Group. The volunteer team leader of our Bird City group, Allison McGinnis, wrote a grant proposal to Tropical Wings for funds to improve the habitat for birds in Stillwater. She received the grant -- a thousand dollars -- and decided to apply it to the project at Lily Lake Park.
Stillwater Honor Society members and their parents and Sustainable Stillwater MN volunteers, young and old, installed the plants purchased with the grant and improved this all-but-ignored sliver of public land. Thank you, volunteers!