April 9, 2021. Rock Island has a dramatic new look! This historic Lilac Way park hasn’t seen this much action in decades. After marking protected trees and shrubs with blue ribbons, MnDOT removed diseased, damaged and invasive trees and shrubs in late March 2021. Thanks to Historic Roadside Property Program (HRPP) Manager Andrea Weber for dedicating precious funding to improve help Rock Island.
Why was this done now?
Eliminating invasive eastern red cedars, mulberries, honeysuckle and buckthorn will prevent damage to the historic stone structures and encourage growth of desirable plants.
Damaged and diseased trees were removed for public safety, and prevent spread of Emerald Ash Borer. See the dramatic results that position this historic Lilac Way park for the future. Browse the photo albums to see details.
What was removed?
- Large volunteer cottonwood tree on south side of pond – prone to storm damage, caused stone paths to heave and was leaning towards sound wall
- Row of invasive eastern red cedars and honeysuckle behind bench
- Large eastern red cedars southeast of pond
- Three dead trees just north of island
- Diseased ash tree south of park, confirmed Emerald Ash Borer (EAB)
- Lots of invasive buckthorn and mulberries near 28th & Toledo
Click the photo albums to see MnDOT’s process and final results.
Rock Island, April 6, 2021 – MnDOT completed removing damaged, diseased and invasive trees and shrubs
MnDOT crews working
Rock Island, March 22-26, 2021, four days of MnDOT’s experienced crew onsite
Rock Island, March 17th, 2021 – Restore Lilac Way followed MnDOT as they marked trees and shrubs for protection
Great news! MnDOT found many more lilacs near 28th & Toledo than expected.
These lilacs are already flourishing. They get more light, air and water without competing with invasive buckthorn. Due to their size, we suspect they may have been part of the original Depression-era plantings, but hard to know for sure.
MnDOT also put down mulch under the protected lilacs. We are hoping this is the start of their second life.
MnDOT will be treating the buckthorn stumps to discourage regrowth. They also moved the salvaged wall remnants away from the sound wall to protect them when the large Cottonwood tree would was removed.
New opportunities for healthy, long-living trees and shrubs
It is dramatic, but this is all good. We are communicating with MnDOT to add new plantings in the next few years and looking for a local sponsor for the park in MnDOT’s Highway Sponsorship program. The prairie grass will come back in the field area.
Keep visiting, and watch the regrowth.
What else is MnDOT proposing for Rock Island?
According to the MnDOT’s Historic Roadside Property Program current projects page, as of 4.9.21:
Proposed Scope: Modifications to path mowing. Supplemental shrub plantings may be added in the NE corner in the future. Repair of loose stone masonry in rock garden area for safety and to prevent ongoing deterioration. Add walk to top of entry stairs for accessibility, stone bench, interpretive signage.
Timeline: Stone repairs and accessibility work, fall 2021 or summer 2022.