Rock Island will be getting some well-deserved TLC from MnDOT starting March 22-26.
Invasive plants and trees are causing damage to the historic stone structures and deterring growth of quality plantings in Rock Island. Built during the Great Depression, it is all that remains of the original Lilac Park near Minnetonka Boulevard and Highway 100. Map
Removal now will improve park for future Rock Island visitors.
As owners of Rock Island, MnDOT’s removal of diseased, damaged and invasive plants will encourage new growth, especially in the lilac bushes near the corner of 28th Street and Toledo Avenue. It will look quite a bit different at first, but is best for this historic park in the long run.
About half of the trees must be removed due to crucial health issues.
There are a large number of ash, Mulberry and other trees with damage or structural problems, making them potentially unsafe.
These will be removed to protect the community and Rock Island visitors.
If a tree or lilac is marked with a blue ribbon, it it is being
If a tree or lilac does not have a blue ribbon, it it is being
Karen Laukkonen of Restore Lilac Way followed MnDOT’s crew as they reviewed Rock Island’s trees/shrubs for damage, disease and invasive species. Photos include detailed captions.
Why is this happening now?
We all love Rock Island, and we are thrilled that MnDOT’s Historic Roadside Properties will be doing some much-needed maintenance to improve the park long-term.
In her new role as Historic Roadside Property Program Manager, Andrea Weber has made Rock Island a priority, even though it is not listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Big thanks for making this happen!
The work is planned for Monday, March 22 – Friday, March 26, 2021, weather permitting.
MnDOT’s contractor will complete tree and shrub removal work in Rock Island between 7am and 5pm, March 22-26 if MN weather allows.
MnDOT staff mark which Rock Island trees and lilac shrubs to be PROTECTED on Wednesday, March 17th.
MnDOT typically marks trees that will be removed. For Rock Island’s project, they marked the trees that will be protected. Don’t be alarmed if you see a marked lilac—it is a good thing, it means it’s being saved.
Protected plants were carefully marked with paint and ribbon by an urban forester who prepared Rock Island’s tree survey last fall. Protected plants were also photographed.
In the rock garden area, MnDOT will
- remove volunteer red cedar, ash, and cottonwood,
- remove the dead spruce,
- cut removals flush with the ground (defined as within 3″ of the ground) and haul away (stumps will not be ground up),
- possibly use a brush cutter on a skid steer (aka bobcat) for removals as needed.
Many invasive and diseased plants will be removed on the corner of 28th Street and Toledo Avenue.
This lilac grouping needs to be thinned considerably—removing many invasive and diseased trees and shrubs will really help the lilacs thrive in coming years.
It will be a dramatic difference at first, but will encourage growth and allow the lilacs to fill in with more branches and scented blooms.
Can’t MnDOT at least save this big cottonwood shade tree near the sound wall?
Sadly, no. According to Andrea Weber, MnDOT Historic Roadside Property Program Manager:
“The tree growing on the edge of the path is a cottonwood. It is hard to see it go, but it was certainly a volunteer tree and not planted there. Cottonwoods are softwood trees that grow very fast. I don’t think it is 100 years old, but we will probably be able to count the rings, they are cutting it flush.
Cottonwoods also lose a lot of branches and are very prone to storm damage, especially as they get older and they can lose large branches. In this location it would be extremely hard to maintain it and it will continue to lift the trail and may cause more damage to the garden area with its trunk and roots as it grows.
It is also leaning toward the sound wall, so if it did get damaged or blown down in a storm. it could damage the sound wall as well. So a lot of factors go into the decision to remove it, though I am a huge fan of cottonwoods and sorry to see it go.
The removals phase is going to be tough. But we will make it better!”
Are there plans to replant trees and shrubs in Rock Island?
“I did talk to Karen about having a discussion about re-planting after things are cleared out and we can see what we have. Native and pollinator friendly plants are the way to go while also protecting the lilacs.
On a positive note, there are a lot more lilacs in the wooded corner than I realized. Hopefully they will be able to grow better and get more sunlight for more blooms with less competition!”
Andrea Weber, MnDOT Historic Roadside Property Program Manager