Public invited to help remove invasive plants at Iron Horse Prairie Scientific and Natural Area

July 13 event to target removal of wild parsnip

The public can help remove invasive plants from Iron Horse Prairie Scientific and Natural Area, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 

Wild parsnip is an invasive weed that is seen widely throughout southeastern Minnesota, choking out roadsides and native prairies. Volunteers are asked to help bag as much wild parsnip as possible in order to prevent it from spreading its seed and further invading the site.

“Iron Horse Prairie SNA is perhaps the finest and largest example of mesic tallgrass prairie remaining in this part of the state,” said SNA specialist Brad Bolduan. “Invasive plants like wild parsnip can quickly outcompete native plants, so we hope the public helps us protect this vital remnant prairie.”

Wild parsnip is native to Europe and Asia. It is present in most Minnesota counties, but is most abundant in southeast Minnesota. The plant has toxic sap that can cause severe skin rash and blistering in the presence of sunlight. As a result, this removal event is limited to adults. Registration is encouraged.

The volunteer event starts at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 13 and is expected to take about three hours.

Long pants and long sleeves along with appropriate footwear are required. Tools and gloves will be provided. Participants are also encouraged to plan ahead since there is no shelter, drinking water or restroom at the SNA.

Volunteers can register by contacting Kari Wallin at 651-259-5165 or Kari.Wallin@state.mn.us.

The DNR benefits greatly from its volunteers. In 2018, more than 20,000 volunteers donated nearly 284,000 hours, which is valued at $7.8 million.

Iron Horse Prairie SNA is a triangular-shaped parcel situated between two diverging railroad spurs. Those railroads, which are now abandoned, helped create a site that was protected from cultivation or other disturbance. The 35-acre site is the area’s largest example of tallgrass prairie. Species diversity is very high on this site and contains a number of rare plant species.

Directions to Iron Horse Prairie SNA:

From Hayfield, drive south on MN Highway 56 for 1 mile. Turn east on 740th St (County Road N) for 0.5 miles. Park in the lot on the south side of the road at the old railroad grade.

Many additional DNR volunteer and recreational events are scheduled throughout the summer. The full schedule of DNR events is available on the DNR website, mndnr.gov.

Funding for wild parsnip removal event at the Iron Horse Prairie SNA was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. The trust fund is a permanent fund constitutionally established by Minnesotans to assist in the protection, conservation, preservation and enhancement of the state’s air, water, land, fish, wildlife and other natural resources.