Young Park eyes $40,000 rejuvenation

Baldwin Township Board chair Jay Swanson, stands in front of the used playground set that was donated by the city of Champlin and recently installed at Baldwin’s Young Park.

BALDWIN TOWNSHIP — Young Park could be getting a major face-lift through a Legacy Grant from the state of Minnesota.

The Sherburne County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) has approached Baldwin Township about applying for a $40,000 grant that would return the native forest and wetland habitat to the park and remove non-native species such as buckthorn that are threatening the native vegetation of the park.

The Baldwin Town Board authorized the SWCD’s Gina Hugo to apply for the grant. The SWCD will oversee the project, if approved, but township approval was necessary because the town is the park’s owner.

Hugo will act as the project manager and will be involved in writing the grant. The SWCD will serve as the fiscal manager. The application deadline is Feb. 8. Baldwin Supervisor Tom Rush will serve as the land manager if the project moves forward.

If approved for the grant, the only cost to the township would be a 10 percent match. Thirty percent of that 10 percent can be from in-kind contributions and the Minnesota Waterfowl Association and Pheasants Forever have already volunteered work. Tractor work done by the SWCD, valued at $50 per acre, could also count towards the match, Hugo said.

“This provides an incredible opportunity to further develop the showcase that Kermit Young envisioned,” Hugo said.

The SWCD has proposed five areas of action if the grant were to be approved: invasive species control, new prairie planting, oak woodland enhancement, pine plantation thinning and prairie enhancement.

Invasive species control: A private company would be hired to remove buckthorn from about four acres of the park.

Prairie planting: A private company would be hired to prepare seed beds of native prairie grasses on three acres of the park. The seed beds would be planted with a diverse local mix of prairie grasses and wild flowers.

Woodland enhancement: Woodlands along the southern park border that surround the trails are beginning to show signs of degradation. Under the plan, a private land management company would remove invasive species and perform a selective thinning of some of the native species to promote healthier growth. Some new trees would be planted, as well. This would encompass about 10 acres of the park.

Pine plantation thinning: The scotch pine in the park has never been thinned and is now overstocked because of its growth. Proposals call for thinning the stand to prevent trees from succumbing to insect and disease infestation and general weakness.

Prairie enhancement: About 13 acres of prairie planted about three years ago by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service is not developing as it should. Plans call for doing prescribed burns to remove the prairie grasses and then replant with native prairie grass and wildflower seed.

In other Young Park news, the board has authorized the SWCD to construct a rain garden in the park between the park’s parking lot and playground.